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An overview by Jane Fletcher Geniesse

Daly Walker is a storyteller and a doctor, or maybe he is a doctor who is a storyteller, in the long tradition of writer/poet/physicians who write. It's no surprise that as a surgeon Daly is able to give us scenes where death may be the outcome--whether futile intervention in a hospital, or a life-and-death choice made at home, or violence at some desolate outpost in Vietnam. However, Daly’s are mostly stories about life, a far more confusing, stressful, and eternally interesting subject. His characters are us, we who think of ourselves as good-hearted, decent Americans struggling with life’s twists and turns, wishing to do the right thing. Daly’s are engrossing stories, all the more for his quiet unfolding: an old man feeling purposeless until the appearance of a young stranger; a boy meeting a murderer on death row; another returning to his childhood home to discover a secret he had been blind to. In sum, Daly is a writer with a firm grasp on the anguish and beauty of the human condition.


Emily Dickinson’s famous lines warning the surgeon to be careful about disclosing the “culprit life” have never been more aptly or gracefully applied than in Daly Walker’s The Doctor’s Dilemma. Walker may be retired as a surgeon, but he has not lost a step in his ability to carefully open a subject, and make it live anew. These rich stories, written in taut, clean prose, give us the culprit life in every dimension. There is tenderness here, as well as skill, both undergirded by the feeling, known to every able doctor, that life remains more wondrous and mysterious than any science that addresses it. I love this book.

— Roger Rosenblatt


These stories are tender, wise and loving. A doctor as well as a writer, Daly Walker offers new ways of looking at the frailties of the human heart, and the intricate and powerful ways in which it works. Bravo to Walker, for this beautiful collection.

— Roxana Robinson


In this wonderful collection of stories, Dr. Walker writes about the intimate secrets in the hearts and minds of his characters who happen to be physicians. His beautifully crafted prose portrays their struggles with gut-wrenching decisions, their feelings of pride and pleasure, of doubt and uncertainty, of guilt and sadness, of longing and love, and so much more. In short, he demonstrates and celebrates their humanity.

— Robert B Santulli MD
Professor of Psychiatry at Dartmouth College


The Doctor’s Dilemma is a beautiful and deeply perceptive collection of stories. Daly Walker’s writing is artful and profound.

— Elizabeth McKenzie
Author of The Portable