The Doctor's Dilemma


Fiction - Literary
235 Pages
Reviewed on 06/22/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite

The Doctor’s Dilemma: Short Stories by Daly Walker is a magnificent collection of stories about the vicissitudes of life and death as seen through the eyes of various physicians. Readers of the best works of literature will cherish these pieces. Mr. Walker is among the finest of writers, creating beauty out of the direst of circumstances. Keats wrote, “Beauty is truth; truth beauty….” Mr. Walker writes this wisdom. He realizes it is beauty that allows us to cherish life. His stories are about life-and-death medical conflicts and the salvation that love provides. Take for instance, the opening story of the collection where an old man is visited late in the night by a sheriff concerned about his welfare. They talk about old age, nature, and art as the old man recalls his wife and their sharing of nature’s beauties. The deputy describes him as “independence, longevity and grit.”

Most of the stories are seen from the viewpoint of aging and of nostalgic visions of the romantic past, especially the transcendent joy of earthly love. There’s a retired volunteer doctor with a lesion on his cheek, all bandaged, as he helps a younger woman deal with a breast amputation, even a suggestion of love between them in the future. Then there’s the horror of an army doctor in Afghanistan, the reunion of two lovers in Hong Kong during Vietnam; a young man’s life-changing discovery of his lineage during his wistful visit to the family home; the dilemma of a physician during the pandemic of whether to resuscitate a possibly terminal patient; a couple languishing over the possibility of the wife’s cancer returning. These are plot examples, but oh … the writing. Walker’s character and setting descriptions are exquisite, and the structure of his stories sheer perfection, knowing exactly where to end, leaving the reader a bit breathless and pondering the future, exactly what Keats intimated by his famous words. Life’s vicissitudes can be tragic but we are saved by its beauty. If you love art at its finest, do not miss The Doctor’s Dilemma: Short Stories by Daly Walker.

Pikasho Deka

The Doctor's Dilemma is a collection of short stories written by Daly Walker. A reclusive old retired doctor reminisces about his long-dead wife with a young police officer who comes to check on him. A seemingly simple gall bladder operation goes horribly wrong, leaving a young college student in a vegetative state, which eventually leads to her death. As a result, the lead surgeon and the patient's mother struggle to move on. A Vietnam vet tracks down his old girlfriend who broke his heart and wonders if she is worth cheating with on his wife. An old orthopedic surgeon rescues a mother and her sixteen-year-old son from her abusive boyfriend. He goes on to mentor the teenager. A dementia-suffering former neurosurgeon at an old-age home struggles to control his libido.

The Doctor's Dilemma contains thoughtful and moving stories that brilliantly showcase the conflicting emotions in people when faced with adversity, especially in a field where they constantly face moral and ethical dilemmas. Author Daly Walker explores the different facets of the human condition through medical professionals at various stages of their lives. The stories seamlessly show how the Hippocratic oath that physicians abide by stays with them forever and guides their decisions in life. Each character is personal and intimate in a way that makes you feel completely immersed in the narrative. I found the characters realistic and flawed, and their actions felt human. The inner thoughts or monologues are often used to philosophize about the human condition. I found every story compelling and, as such, I highly recommend The Doctor's Dilemma.

Vincent Dublado

The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca once said that people pay the doctor for his trouble; for his kindness, they still remain in his debt. Nothing can be further from the truth. In The Doctor's Dilemma, a sixteen short story collection by Daly Walker, you will be treated to literary tales that delve into the medical vocation. Because of their esteemed and specialized status, doctors act in the best interests of the patient. This anthology captures the dilemmas doctors often encounter that challenge them to re-evaluate their stance on the oath they have taken. From a surgeon that begins to doubt his competence after a grave error to a celebration of medical heroes in the time of COVID-19, these tales are brimming with healing, hope, and a renewed faith in humanity.

Daly Walker is not just a doctor, but also a great storyteller. You cannot help but be moved by the striking imagery of his narrative and the natural rhythm that flows in his written voice. He has a keen eye for examining the strengths and weaknesses that make us human. After reading The Doctor’s Dilemma, you will emerge with a wiser understanding of what it feels like to be a doctor and the struggles that go with the profession. Doctors, like lawyers, deal with ethical issues and their lives fascinate us to the point that they have become favorite subjects in popular culture. But the manner in which Walker has chosen to illustrate them is considerably deeper, as he gets to the core of concepts ranging from etiquette to philosophical questions. This is a must-read short fiction anthology penned by a good doctor and a credible writer.

Divine Zape

The Doctor's Dilemma: Stories is an engrossing collection of stories written by a surgeon, Daly Walker, and before anything, I must say that they are captivating, mind-boggling, and entertaining at full measure. The author crafts short stories that put doctors in front of complex situations, allowing readers to watch them struggling with dilemmas that involve choices between life and death, morality, and the Hippocratic Oath. What happens when an old man encounters a young man who may just happen to be his son? What could possibly go wrong when a man returns to his childhood home only to be startled by secrets that he had overlooked? What choice does a doctor have when faced with a “sick, sick man,” who happens to be a murderer on death row, and even if his father is the one proclaiming him so? Such are the questions explored in the plots of these short stories and there is more to excite both the curiosity and the mind of the reader.

Pathos, humor, and plot twists are elements that permeate these stories. The Doctor's Dilemma is a brilliantly written work that combines literary playfulness with real-life situations to explore the dilemma which medical doctors and surgeons face when given the choice to follow a popular moral code or their commitment to saving lives. Daly Walker is not just an experienced surgeon but a virtuoso who writes a work of bold mastery, a gorgeous offering of realistic characters and emotional intensity. The author raises the bar for short stories, writing characters that come to life, and having the ability to condense complex issues into short stories, values, and elements that will most certainly delight fans of the genre. The Doctor's Dilemma: Stories reads like a box of cookies; you will pick one and feed on it, savoring the flavor that lingers long after it is consumed. You will read these stories and then think about each of them and the difficult lessons they impart.

Christian Sia

The Doctor's Dilemma: Stories by Daly Walker is a collection of emotionally and, at times, poignantly written stories that take readers on a ride to behind-the-scenes experiences of medical professionals, doctors, and surgeons, and the dilemma that they are often trapped in, caught between saving lives and walking through the different shades of the Hippocratic Oath and the exigencies of morality. The protagonists are well-written and they are characters that readers will not only root for but will adore. One of my favorite stories in the collection is the encounter between Dr. Ivan, an old man in a wheelchair, and his condescending son, Eric. The effect the son has on the father is something that will move any reader.

Daly Walker’s stories are skillfully written, each featuring strong literary elements and characters that pull readers irresistibly into the underlying currents that move the plots forward. The characters are real; they are human and deeply flawed. Each story has a twist that the reader doesn’t immediately see. What is fascinating about these stories is the author’s ability to stir the thoughts of readers and keep them wondering about the characters and the plotlines. I adored the characters; the heroes of the stories are faced with challenges, from upholding the dignity and privacy of those they deal with to making death-and-life decisions. The Doctor's Dilemma: Stories is written in beautiful prose, punctuated by exciting and well-crafted dialogues, and featuring characters that readers can relate to. This author has not only mastered the art of the short story but has the experience and the imagination that gives life to the characters and creates gripping plots.