Local author discusses new novel ‘Walden’

Theresa Kozul

College students are confronted daily with stress – grades, friends, love, successes and failures. But Walden, the main character of Michael T. Dolan’s first novel titled “Walden,” is a striking and powerful representation of the stresses which come with college life.

“He is an angst-ridden, well-off kid who is struggling to find his role in the world,” Dolan says. Dolan, a local author from West Chester, Pa., is also a ’99 graduate of Villanova University. Dolan graduated with a degree in English, and his educational foundation is driven by his passion for writing. It is this passion that jumps out of the pages of his premiere novel, leaving the reader wanting more.

“Walden” is a 135-page easy read in which Dolan leads his reader through one action- and emotion-packed day in the life of Walden.

Walden XVI has high family expectations weighing him down as he first steps onto “University” campus as a freshman. His great-great-grandfather wrote the school’s alma mater. His dorm, “Walden Hall,” is named for one of his many predecessors. And his father, constantly asking about Walden’s grades, is all too chummy with the dean.

All this and more stifles Walden to the point where he acts out by skipping classes, missing paper deadlines and other less typical acts of rebellion performed by soul-searching college students. One particularly entertaining scene involves Walden and two accomplices setting free pigeons from their biology lab.

While Walden’s actions, at times, may be extreme, the story encompasses themes of individuality and self-identity that many college students face. In one day, Dolan manages to weave love, depression, life, death and many other issues through the plot. Dolan’s skillful way of describing a typical college campus, “frat” guys and the awkward first roommates allows the message of the book to apply to any college or university student. It is a must-read for any current student or recent grad.

The ending of the novel is truly unexpected and almost unbelievable, forcing the reader to re-read it to truly take in all that the book has to offer.

James Joyce, one of Dolan’s favorite authors, and Thoreau’s “Walden” both inspired Dolan when writing his novel.

For more information about this funny, powerful and at times dark novel, visit www.conversari.com/walden.htm.