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Keats (The Pathology of Lies) re-imagines Jewish folklore in his collection of stories about the Talmudic idea of the Lamedh-Vov, 36 righteous souls who must exist at all times in order for humanity, and the world, to sustain itself. A fictional author's foreword by Jay Katz, Ph.D., summarizes the idea of the Lamedh-Vov and establishes its legitimacy by citing a list of names Katz found while excavating a German synagogue. The stories that follow-covering 12 of the 36 souls-are based on Katz's discussions with villagers. The heroes of these stories include a liar, a thief, an idiot and a whore-not your typical folk heroes. Gimmel the Gambler, for example, loses his fortune to a beautiful peasant woman with one roll of the dice; with her new riches, she's able to marry the king. The accomplishment of this book is more about stylistic mimicry than originality; Keats's ear for the language of folktales comes through nicely, though because of the stories' limited scope, they lack bite. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.