Sample Review

For detailed information on scoring/info on reviews see “Sample Review and Scoring” page.

Poetry books are rated using the following:
Cover, Editing, Development, Originality, Emotional Response to the Book
cover: 4
editing: 4
development: 5
originality: 5
emotional response to the book (+ or -): 3

Possible total score of 25 (w/cover)
Score: 21, Very Good ****


Title of Book/Genre: Living in the Event Horizon of a Big Mud Hole
(ASIN: B007AAK9DQ)/Literature/Poetry
Pages: e-book 196 KB: 129 hard copy
Indie Author: Robert Zwilling
Published Platform: Kindle 2012/Author provided PDF copy for review
Review Score: 21-Very Good ****

Everything about this volume is packed with meaning not the least of which is the title itself.

An Event Horizon. In a Big Mud Hole.

Let’s parse this out. First, what is an “event horizon”?

According to a few sources it is: “a boundary in space time beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer” otherwise known as “the point of no return”. A point at which gravitational pull is so strong, escape of it is impossible. And this is just the title.

A Big Mud Hole. Well, I am thinking we all know this one but in this case, I believe it refers to the earth. References abound throughout too regarding our rise from the slime, muck. (Really? We’ve left it? Based on modern culture, I might beg to differ…but Zwilling covers this too).

So we cannot escape the earth, gravity? The gravity of this earthly volume?

Onto the ‘volume’ because I can’t quite bring myself to call it a book. I don’t know why. This is a volume about science. Zwilling takes a scratching of the chin (introspective) perspective on all kinds of topics that include everything from comments on the outer reaches of the universe, evolution, anthropology, climate change, to soil erosion, algae, chemosynthesis, road kill/animal rights, DNA (“free floating genetic material..”), and so much more. He leaves no stone unturned. There is also a Luddite undercurrent regarding technology (that I agree with—“Offline Brains”). The breadth of this volume is indeed as wide as the universe.

What to call the writings in this volume–Expressions? Reflections? Sayings? Commentary? Editorials? Poems? (And why do I feel compelled to categorize them?) I settled on calling many of the “poems” koans because they have the same effect on you as a koan—evoking from me sometimes outright laughter. Many were absolutely delightful and I still chuckle thinking about snail toe soup. I might order this the next time I go out.

One gets the feeling the structure of the writing, use of capital letters, lack of punctuation (no question marks after a question) are not a sign of poor editing but are intentional (Jose Saramago comes to mind for one if not John Ashbery). I liked it but others may not.

Most entertaining if not jarring is Zwilling’s ability to turn a phrase (create a new one?) about even the most mundane things like cars and roads or in his words, “Slow Walking/Chariots on Fire- these flattened bands are used to grind flat the surface of the Earth…moving sideways slicing into the land…while mobile grinding wheels keep the roads clean.”

This isn’t the sort thing I feel you sit down and read through, like a novel. I could only read a few entries a day as each one requires a certain undistracted mind-set. I think if I were lounging on a beach in Bali and this is all I had to do, I might enjoy it more. Sometimes, I wasn’t in the mood for the intensity though there is definitely some whimsy and play in his writings as demonstrated below. Some of it makes you laugh out loud. But even the table of contents is intense. (He feels a need to even interpret the table of contents). There are times you want him to just come out and say how he feels. For whatever reason, he writes around his feelings and it can feel like a lot of work trying to drill down to whatever his point is. “Just get to it” slipped out of my mind a few times. “What’s your point? Why are you so afraid to just come out and make one?” It comes across as a bit clinical or is that Buddhist? Is he just trying to educate the reader, like in a lesson? Should these writings be expanded out into articles? What does he want from the reader? Does the reader figure into his writings? Things got a little more emotional towards the end of the volume. I considered many of these “poems”.

Maybe this isn’t a book of “sayings” but more a program of some sort where you read for awhile, then contemplate, study, think.

So of course, it’s long (129 8.5 X 11.5 pages) and I cannot possibly cover it all in this review so here are only some examples. These are just excerpts from longer entries. Most of the punctuation is mine as are some other modifications such as small letters versus caps. All his titles are in CAPS. Any changes from his style is clarity for this review.


“EVENT HORIZON-Everyone knows about Isaac Newton’s apple…then the apple goes all the way down to the lowest point of the Abyssal plains.”

“LIVING-As well as carbon footprints, there are also carbon shadows.”

“TOOLS-Once tools are introduced into the system, all bets are off as to what governs the survival of the species.”

“THE STORE-Everybody is drinking water but not everyone gets the same kind of water, yet.”

“ISLANDS-The ones who need to be exiled never get the message.”

“CLOUDS-There is no way forward when ancient intelligence is blindly cast away.”

“DREAMS-Dreams do little to encourage equal opportunities.”

“UNSEEN CONNECTIONS-sometimes it is not what is exactly in common that counts but rather the many intersections of the lesser items that lie below the surface.”

“SHOULD HAVE SAID-things that are still happening that are always wrong should not be described in the past tense like it was over and done with.”

“THE ALL SEEING EYE-Minority rule is being replaced by web mob rule using electronic consensus.”

“NERVES-Events from people’s earliest times help shape the nervous system.”

“BLUE-GREEN ALGAE EATERS-trees came so late, merrily we chop all we can see, and suicide seeds could wipe it all out.”

“WHO OWNS THAT-The successful plants and animals adapt to the doctored landscape as their native environments disappear. Perhaps grapes and other plants that have the gift of being a sought after beverage are among the most successful.”

“LIVING-Most seem afraid to live without numbness.”

“WHERE IS GOD-God is the appearance of life where there was none.”

“THE LINE-now you find out, at the end of a long walk, you are now the entertainment.”

“LAWS-there is no justice; only random retribution ruling the land.”


(This made me burst out laughing. I don’t know why): “WHICH PLANET ARE YOU FROM (no punctuation). Just asking which planet you are from.”

“THE BIG SPLIT-Everything is cycling, even empty space.”

“SERVING SEVEN BILLION-It’s a different kind of footprint that hangs overhead.”

“NO DECISION-…allows an entire life time of fence sitting while standing up.”

“EXERTION-Is there immunity to the after effects of working.” (No question mark).

“DISTRACTION-Taking a walk about the inside of your body.”

“DUST-In the new wars one can die on the battle field without ever getting to the field of battle.”

“MODERN DAY GODS-Ancient gods are to ancient people what modern people are to present day animals.” “Ignore the god’s warnings, crushed flat on the highways, rubber clawed chariots, still making the rounds, ancient people imagined what today’s animals feel.”

“GROWING HISTORY-thoughts with no meanings, take on a new life”

Three excerpts from TOOLS:

“Survival of the fittest. A bang-up slogan…” (ar ar)
“Way down in the muck, Four billion years old, Amoebas are swimming, Obeying the rules. Survival of the fittest is done without tools.”
This made me reflect on the state of American politics at present: “All bets are off, what makes a winner when insanity rains.” (Is rain a typo? I think not).

“PERPETUAL MOTION-Running four billion plus years, best damn example of a perpetual motion machine.”

To summarize, this is a volume rich with intellectual meaning in a multitude of ways. It’s ‘fun and educational’ (sorry. I don’t know how else to put it); but for me, reading it was not an emotional experience. If a sometimes whimsical thought-provoking intellectual ‘trip’ is what you are seeking, it will serve to be a fit companion.