The Golem of Rabbi Loew
by Johnny Townsend

"It was late, so after emailing some guys in Sweden, I got in bed. I masturbated while thinking of David, and then I went to sleep."

Townsend follows up a string of previous religious and gay-themed books with this collection of short stories. The twelve stories revolve around young and middle-aged gay men who are seeking fulfillment through a variety of means, primarily sex and religion. Conversion from Mormonism to Judaism is a major theme. Envisioned biotechnology that could make Jews a stronger race is another, lesser, theme.

The stories, while cleanly written, are moderately compelling. Most are long and extremely detailed with repeated descriptions of casual sexual hook-ups and everyday occurrences such as what a character does at work all day and how they fill their free moments. Sparks of interest occur in the surprise, bloody ending of "Jewish Dogs" and the amusing handling of Mormon missionaries in "The Convert's Mezuzah." The Golem of Rabbi Loew, the book's namesake and concluding story, is perhaps the most engaging. Its shocking ending and mystical theme, about a married Rabbi who believes his secret gay lover is a golem returned from the dead, help it rise above the other pieces. Many of the stories have at their core a decent plot premise, which might also mesh well if condensed into one novel. The book carries a good basis that at times falters due to a lack of strong, focused story development.

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