#WALK follows the travails of a populist, grassroots movement, Ovid House, whose aim is to bring a more pure democracy to the United States. The group’s method is simple and full of alluring promise: pass an amendment to the Constitution to make every citizen in the country a member of the US House of Representatives. The amendment also enables all residents to vote via a monthly mail-in voting system.
The book follows an interesting trajectory, loosely weaving together the personal lives and reflections of key players in the movement and their often stymied attempts to bring their efforts to fruition. Sometimes, the book offers interesting tangents from the central narrative, wherein the characters digress into insights about deeper human motivations and about what impels a society to shift in new directions. The style of the narrative is hardly ornate with narrative; rather the whole story shifts forward primarily through dialogues between one or two characters. The minimalism of the whole book is inviting and refreshing, as idealism clashes with realism, as for example when Jessica Morris, a member of the Ovid House movement, finds herself turned down by a college for her involvement in the grassroots campaign. The interviewer for university thinks the burgeoning political rally a disruptive influence on campus.
The story catapults to a national stage when Karen, a fiancée of the founder of the Ovid House movement, Eric Rane, has a meeting with the sitting US president. During this time as well, Eric, who has remained in secret until now under a pen name, also reveals his true identity as the writer of Ovid House novel that propelled the movement forward. But all of this comes with an entropic twist to the revelation, as he confides in the campaign that he merely wrote the book for money and not for idealistic aspirations. After this, Eric delivers to the Ovid House gatherings a series of compelling speeches, many of which are filled with ironic rhetoric that seems to deflate the movement more than propel it forward. Later, he engages in salacious encounters with different women, which only serves to undermine the reputation of the movement even further.
Throughout, Eric expresses pessimism that the movement he inspired would ever come to fruition. His adherents beg to differ, and this creates a central tension in the story. Complex and often riveting in its philosophical exchanges, Walk is a story of how activism forms and takes shape amidst of sea of authority that seeks to suppress it. While the characters perhaps aren’t as idealistic in their outlook as the reader might be led to think at first, it is a gripping analysis of how cynicism and idealism exist in a constant state of tension and of how intention isn’t always so pure as advertised. One interesting innovation that the book offers is that the author invites the reader at the end of most chapters to write their own storyline into the book.
A political tract of sorts, which doesn’t conceal the failings of the people involved in political metamorphosis, #WALK is an effective commentary on the nature of both grassroots power and political suppression.
~MP Gunderson for IndieReader