Recommended Titles from the Walkover Collection

Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
(Vintage International 2015 – Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2014) LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor) PR9619.3.F525 N37 2015

The title of Richard Flanagan’s sixth novel comes from a 17th-century Japanese classic, a little book by the poet Basho that mixes a prose travel narrative with haiku in its account of a long journey on foot. Whether that journey has any meaning, whether there’s anything beyond putting one foot in front of the other . . . well, that’s another question entirely. Flanagan’s Dorrigo Evans, a young medical officer, seems at first to travel a different path. For Dorrigo — the name comes from a town in New South Wales — is a prisoner of war, among the more than 9,000 Australians who in 1943 slaved on what was called the “Death Railway.” This grave and lovely novel bears little resemblance to the one the French writer Pierre Boulle offered in the early 1950s in “The Bridge Over the River Kwai.” He has something much deeper than revisionism on his mind.

His unit surrenders to the Japanese in Java, and in postwar Australia he will become famous for his work in the prison camp, for the leadership that ensures the survival of most of the men in his command. And he hates his fame — hates the idea of virtue in general and of his own in particular, hates the idea that those months of struggle have come to define his entire life.

Flanagan has done something difficult here, creating a character who is at once vivid and shadowy. In his long postwar life, Dorrigo will see his own moments of heroism as if performed by someone else. Flanagan will cut back and forth in Dorrigo’s life: the prison camp, his childhood, a prewar love affair, and then half a century forward. Only on the book’s last pages do we understand the moment in camp that irreparably damaged Dorrigo’s life, and only then will we see that this trauma has little to do with the camp. Flanagan manages these shifts in time and perspective with extraordinary skill. I suspect that on rereading, this magnificent novel will seem even more intricate, more carefully and beautifully constructed. And those formal demands aren’t the only ones it makes.

Basho wrote that “Days and months are travelers of eternity,” and Flanagan’s book, like the poet’s own, will push us far down that path. This “Narrow Road to the Deep North” is both unforgiving and generous, a paradox that should earn it some fame of its own. (Review excerpted from Michael Gorra, New York Times Sunday Book Review)

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
(Plume 2014 – Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014) LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor) PS3556.O844W4 2013

What is the boundary between human and animal beings and what happens when that boundary is blurred are two of many questions raised in Fowler’s novel, the narration of a young woman grieving over her lost sister, who happens to be a chimpanzee.

Rosemary recounts her family history at first haltingly and then with increasingly articulate passion. In 1996, she is a troubled student at U.C. Davis who rarely speaks out loud. She thinks as little as possible about her childhood and the two siblings no longer part of her family. But during a Thanksgiving visit home to Bloomington, Ind., where her father is a psychology professor, that past resurfaces. Rosemary recalls her distress as a 5-year-old when she returned from visiting her grandparents to find her family living in a new house and her sister Fern gone. Denying any memory of why Fern disappeared, she claims to remember only the aftermath: her mother’s breakdown; her father’s withdrawal; her older brother Lowell’s accelerating anger until he left the family at 18 to find Fern and become an animal rights activist/terrorist; her own continuing inability to fit in with human peers. Gradually, Rosemary acknowledges an idyllic earlier childhood when she and Fern were inseparable playmates on a farm, their intact family shared with psych grad students. By waiting to clarify that Fern was a chimpanzee, Rosemary challenges readers to rethink concepts of kinship and selfhood; for Rosemary and Lowell, Fern was and will always be a sister, not an experiment in raising a chimpanzee with human children. And when, after 10 years of silence, Lowell shows up in Davis to describe Fern’s current living conditions, he shakes free more memories for Rosemary of her sibling relationship with Fern, the superior twin she loved, envied and sometimes resented. Readers will forgive Fowler’s occasional didacticism about animal experimentation since Rosemary’s voice—vulnerable, angry, shockingly honest—is so compelling and the cast of characters, including Fern, irresistible.
A fantastic novel: technically and intellectually complex, while emotionally gripping. (Kirkus Reviews)

The Walkover Collection

The Walkover Collection was created on behalf of Professor Andy M. Walkover, a much loved and a deeply admired member of the University of Puget Sound School of Law faculty. Andy died of cancer in 1988. Andy’s appreciation of people revealed itself in the way he recommended just the right books to his friends.

The eclectic Walkover collection consists of some of Andy’s favorite novels including many classics of American and European literature. The collection also includes works donated by Andy’s friends and family that reflect his taste and personality. The Walkover collection continues to grow through the generosity of the Andrew Walkover Library Fund established by Barbara Walkover. The fund allows the library to purchase new titles including a selection of Pulitzer, National Book Award and Man Booker prize winners. The law library invites you to use and enjoy the Walkover collection. As stated on the memorial plaque above the Walkover collection, “Nothing would have pleased Andy more than to know you’re now taking even a short journey from law school into the broader world of wonder by leafing through one of these books.”

The Walkover collection is located adjacent to the recreational reading collection under the library stairs.

Recommended Reading from the Walkover Collection

The Walkover collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

The Buddha in the Attic (Knopf 2011)
Julia Otsuka
LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor) PS3615.T88B83 2012

“Otsuka, whose first novel (When the Emperor Was Divine, 2003) focused on one specific Japanese-American family’s plight during and after internment, takes the broad view in this novella-length consideration of Japanese mail-order brides making a life for themselves in America in the decades before World War II. There are no central characters. A first-person-plural chorus narrates the women’s experiences from their departure from Japan until they are removed from their homes and shipped to the camps, at which point the narration is taken over by clueless whites. Rather than following an individual story, Otsuka lists experience after experience, piling name upon name. Voyaging across the Pacific to California, the women’s emotions range from fear to excitement, but most, even those leaving behind secret lovers, are hopeful. Reality sets in when they meet their husbands, who are seldom the men they seemed from their letters and photographs. And the men’s reactions to their new wives vary as much as the women’s. Some are loving, some abusive. For all their differences, whether farm workers, laundrymen, gardeners or struggling entrepreneurs, they share a common outsider status. Soon the majority of women who stay married—some die or run off or are abandoned—are working alongside their husbands. They begin to have babies and find themselves raising children who speak English and consider themselves American. And the women have become entrenched; some even have relationships with the whites around them; many are financially comfortable. But with the arrival of the war against Japan come rumors. Japanese and white Americans look at each other differently. Loyalty is questioned. Anti-Japanese laws are passed. And the Japanese themselves no longer know whom to trust as more and more of them disappear each day. Once they are truly gone, off to the camps, the whites feel a mix of guilt and relief, then begin to forget the Japanese who had been their neighbors. A lovely prose poem that gives a bitter history lesson.” Review from Kirkus Reviews

Recommended Reading from the Walkover Collection

The Walkover collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

I am Radar (Penguin Press 2015)
Reif Larson
LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor)  PS3612.A773I2 2015

“Set aside for the moment the black baby born to white parents, the avant-­garde puppeteers and the quantum physics that swirl around the whole kit and caboodle. The most interesting facet of Reif Larsen’s 600-plus-page novel, “I Am Radar,” is that it reads like something far more compact than its bulk might suggest. There are maps, diagrams and pictures (e.g., an elephant plummeting from a bridge, a Cambodian prisoner of the Khmer Rouge) that remind one of the visual arrangements in W. G. Sebald’s novels. Then there is a deeply patterned narrative that darts easily from small-bore domestic dramas to sweeping historical catastrophes with just the right fillip of silliness and levity to keep the whole text eminently ­approachable.” Review by Christopher Byrd, NYT Sunday Book Review

Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog (Blue Rider Press 2013)
Delia Ephron
LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor) PS3555.P48S57 2013

“When Ephron’s humorous essay “How to Eat like a Child” appeared in the New York Times Magazine, her first “big success,” she knew she had found her calling. In this new collection of essays, she displays that sharply funny and compassionate voice. The author, who co-wrote the screenplay You’ve Got Mail and the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore with her sister Nora, has written novels for adults and teenagers (The Lion Is In, 2012) and essay collections (Funny Sauce, 1986). Here, her keen observations about family, friends, work and life’s small indignities and deep sorrows leave readers laughing out loud one moment and tearing up the next. In her loving essay “Losing Nora,” she grapples with grief, the complexities of sisterly love and sibling rivalry while paying tribute to her brilliant, fun-loving, tough-minded sister, who died in 2012. “Am I Jewish Enough?” describes the Ephron “sect of writers.” Her parents were Hollywood screenwriters, and all three of her sisters became authors. In their religion, “Laughter was the point, not prayer, and the blessing, ‘That’s a great line, write it down.’ ” In “Why I Can’t Write about My Mother,” Ephron reveals her madcap family’s dark side. Her parents took to alcohol like Nick and Nora Charles, and nights were often filled with “drunken brawls and raging fights.” In this alcoholic haze, her emotionally distant mother became even more elusive. Ephron knows a few things about her—e.g., she abhorred conformity and insisted her daughters would have careers—but she can never break through the surface of this accomplished woman who wore one-liners like armor. A witty and often profound look at human behavior and all its absurdities, contradictions, obsessions and phobias.” Review from Kirkus Reviews

Featured Book from the Walkover Collection

The Walkover collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

booksLouise Erdrich, The Round House  (Harper Collins, 2012) LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor)   PS3555.R42R68 2012   (Winner of the National Book Award 2012)

In her intensely involving fourteenth novel, Erdrich writes with brio in the voice of a man reliving the fateful summer of his thirteenth year. The son of a tribal judge, Bazil, and a tribal enrollment specialist, Geraldine, Joe Coutts is an attentively loved and lucky boy—until his mother is brutally beaten and raped. Erdrich’s profound intimacy with her characters electrifies this stunning and devastating tale of hate crimes and vengeance, her latest immersion in the Ojibwe and white community she has been writing about for more than two decades. As Joe and his father try to help Geraldine heal and figure out who attacked her and why, Erdrich dissects the harsh realities of an imperiled yet vital culture and unjust laws reaching back to a tragedy in her earlier novel The Plague of Doves (2008). But it is Joe’s awakening to the complexities and traumas of adult life that makes this such a beautifully warm and wise novel.Through Joe’s hilarious and unnerving encounters with his ex-stripper aunt, bawdy grandmothers, and a marine turned Catholic priest; Joe’s dangerous escapades with his loyal friends; and the spellbinding stories told by his grandfather, Mooshum, a favorite recurring character, Erdrich covers a vast spectrum of history, cruel loss, and bracing realizations. A preeminent tale in an essential American saga. (Review from Booklist)

Featured Book from the Walkover Collection

The Walkover collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule  (McPherson & Co, 2010) LAW-Walkover Collection (2nd Floor)   PS3557.O668L67 2010   (Winner of the National Book Award 2010)

9505561Firmly rooted in the smells and sounds of a particular place, the language of the racetrack, like Yiddish, is rich in the ironies and heartbreak of daily living. Gordon knows that language and brings it to vivid life in this moving and lyrical tone poem about the inhabitants of the “backside” at a no-account West Virginia racetrack called Indian Mound Downs. The equilibrium of life for the grooms, trainers, small-time owners, and even the horses that populate the backside’s shed rows is disrupted by the arrival of a frizzy-haired girl and her peculiar boyfriend, who plans to run his aging horse at the track. Nothing odd about that, particularly, but with the girl’s arrival, Medicine Ed, a 73-year-old groom who has spent his entire life as a “racetracker,” has a “funny, goofered feeling about the way things was going.” Ed, who earned his moniker making “goofer juice,” which has startling effects when rubbed on a horse about to run, is rarely wrong about such things. As the inevitable plays itself out over a novel structured around four horses (including the titular Lord of Misrule) running in four races, we come to feel not only the idiosyncratic camaraderie shared by the backside inhabitants but also the special rhythm of life lived near the “fly-loud” barn. This is not the world of Seabiscuit or Secretariat, where the right horse winning the right race makes everything good; this is a goofered world ruled by misrule. But sometimes, as Gordon tells it, the smell of pine tar and horse manure can function like a “devil’s tonic.” Words can do that, too, as this nearly word-perfect novel makes abundantly clear. –Bill Ott (Review from Booklist)


Recommended Title from the Walkover Collection

297673Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Books 2008) [Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction]

“Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú — the ancient curse that has haunted the Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim – until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.

With dazzling energy and insight, Junot Díaz immerses us in the uproarious lives of our hero Oscar, his runaway sister Lola, and their ferocious beauty-queen mother Belicia, and in the epic journey from Santo Domingo to Washington Heights to New Jersey’s Bergenline and back again. Rendered with uncommon warmth and humor, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao presents an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and the endless human capacity to persevere – and to risk it all – in the name of love.

“A true literary triumph, this novel confirms Junot Díaz as one of the best and most exciting writers of our time.” Review from


Recommended Title from the Walkover Collection

Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad (Anchor Books 2011) [Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction]

egan-007“The title of Jennifer Egan’s novel may make it sound more like an episode of Scooby-Doo than an exceptional rendering of contemporary America, but don’t be fooled. Egan has said that the novel was inspired by two sources: Proust’s À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, and HBO’s The Sopranos. That shouldn’t make sense but it does: Goon Squad is a book about memory and kinship, time and narrative, continuity and disconnection, in which relationships shift and recombine kaleidoscopically.  (more…)