The Apes of Eden Review:

A meaty piece of literature for the true connoisseur


Liberary book


I must make a confession. I am a literary snob. That is the unfortunate by-product of possessing a degree in English and journalism and having approximately 40 years of writing and editing in my past.

I first discovered this about myself right after college when I tried to read the latest Jackie Collins novel for which everyone was raving. I could barely make it to the end without gagging.  After years of studying the masters of American and world literature such as: Nathanial Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neil, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, John Steinbeck, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Chaucer, etc., etc., etc., I found I was spoiled.

After struggling to read several contemporary novels for the purpose of conversation, I finally gave up and have since devoted my time to mostly nonfiction and journalistic writings. (Yes, I did read all three of the Shades of Grey novels—Yuck!) However, something came to my attention recently that really grabbed my interest.

My agent asked me to review a newly released work of art called The Apes of Eden. It is an epic poem written in iambic pentameter examining the development of man, religion, and the quest for God. This sounds intimidating but don’t let this description deter you.

It is obvious the author, Jon P. Gunn, had fun writing, playing with ideas and words, and occasionally teasing the reader along the way. We see this on the title page which says: The Apes of Eden, The Journey Begins, as told by Literate Louie, the Scribe of the Tribe.

Literate Louie tells us in the very beginning:

My present goal is briefly to describe

the mighty deeds of Eden’s famous Tribe

from high antiquity to modern times

in lucid, readable Heroic Rhymes

that nearly any member of our band

with brains between his ears, can understand…


As they say, “this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea” and the author, via Literate Louie, knows this as he goes on to say:

…One type

of reader savors Art, the other, tripe.

There is no tepid “Middle Way” to go.

Like death, or pregnancy, it’s Yes or No—


However Literate Louie knows there will be a market for his work as he says:

I don’t expect my work to go to waste.

We have, among us, apes of cultured taste:

the Literate Elite. I write for those.

Let lowbrows read some Scribbler’s dreary prose.


As the reader continues through the history of the Apes of Eden, many classical pieces of literature and scenes from the Bible will spring to mind. We see scenes reminiscent of Greek mythology, Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost and others. Chapter titles such as Genesis, Exodus, The Fall, and David and the Cyclops give us a clue as to the influences upon the author.

Through the epic poem the author, Gunn, explores classic themes such as creationism versus evolution, pride before the fall, the validity of past historical and religious events, and the relationship between man (or in this case, Ape) and God.

we’ve always been as we exist today;

we neither dropped from Heaven nor arose

“by evolution” from our racial foes.

That open-ended past I can’t conceive,

nor do I know which theories to believe….


he’d met someone, he said, who’d thought it odd

that we, the Higher Apes, had not found God.



Who wants to be considered such a clod

he has to hedge when asked: Have you found God?

Let’s find the Deity!” our prophet cried,

and swung excitedly from side to side.

(Remember—these are apes)


The apes begin their journey out of Eden, past a gate guarded by a being with a flaming sword and continue lost and without direction through desert and mountain and many strange adventures. They go on and on in their quest for a Deity until the end of the book. Throughout this quest we are reminded of Moses guiding his people to the Promised Land and other legendary figures.

If I have a criticism of the book it is that it just ends. It ends without any conclusion or a neat summary package. They say in art you must know the rules in order to break them and I feel this is exactly what the author is doing. It is his wink at the reader as if to say, “That’s life.” I understand this is the first of a trilogy so we can look forward to more in the future.

Every work of art has new discoveries to be found each time it is revisited. I found this true of The Apes of Eden. I have now read it about four times and each time I gleaned new information or a new insight. If you are hungry for a good read rather than the junk food and fluff that is fed to us in the commercial markets then look for The Apes of Eden by Jon P. Gunn at It will be as satisfying as a good steak.

This is a must read for the “Literate Elite;” it is a classic in the making. So, I urge you to be among the first to read this gem and help spread the word. This is a treasure just waiting to be discovered.


Celebrate Life

Celebrate life

Book Update

Since I made the announcement of the publishing of my upcoming book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast—surviving a life-altering experience, many of you have sent messages of congratulations and good wishes. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I stopped by the mailbox on the way to meet my agent for lunch yesterday and found a beautiful note from my good friend and neighbor, Anne. When I showed it to my agent he suggested I post it on my blog to help promote the book. So, here it is—












Thank you, Anne. The hard part for me in this process will be learning to promote myself. I have promoted organizations, activities, and celebrities during my long and varied career; in fact, I have made a profession of making other people look good. I guess it is now time to switch gears and promote myself.

To give you more of an idea of what the book is about I am listing a brief chapter summary. I will be running brief excerpts from the book occasionally on this site.



Peach Cobbler for Breakfast

A journey from self-discovery to recovery after a life-altering event

By Sheila Moore Thornburg Dobbie





Chapter 1

            The Premonition—dark storm clouds

As we leave our favorite vacation beach island I have an uneasy premonition but rationalize that I’m over-reacting to the incoming storm clouds.

Chapter 2

         Oh, Those West Virginia Hill—how majestic and how grand

A brief biographical sketch of my family and my background including a look at my family history; also, what it was like growing up in the protective environment of the West Virginia hills during the 50’s and 60’s.

Chapter 3

         They Tried to Tell Us We’re Too Young—but only time will tell

I was 15 when I met and fell in love with David, my husband to be. We dated through high school and college and finally got married seven years later. Things didn’t always go smoothly and my parents were against us in the beginning but they eventually changed their minds.

Chapter 4

         Mushroom and Crutches—receiving bad news

The mushroom shaped tumors continue to reappear in David’s bladder. He has another procedure and the day after his surgery a disc in my back ruptures.

Chapter 5

         The Sweetest Words—a father’s love

David has another surgery but things don’t go as planned. I prepare to spend the night at the hospital and send my parents home. As my mother steps on the elevator my father steps back and puts his arm around my shoulders. He is spending the night with me. He knew I would protest if I had advanced warning. I’m just too independent.

Chapter 6

         The Impatient Patient—preparing for the long journey

As I sit by the east window in David’s room I see the sky brighten and turn shades of red and purple. Fiery fingers ignite the city below. I know the doctor will be in soon to give David the bad news and I dread that moment. I prepare for the long journey with the impatient patient.


Chapter 7

         Lightning Flashes—swimming like a mad salmon

Buddha said, “….To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is a flash of lightning in the sky….”in the following year my father is diagnosed with a brain tumor and dies ten weeks later. David’s health is on the rebound but the cancer returns only three months later. He dies a little more than six months after my father.

Chapter 8

         Quicksand—drowning in emotions

My life is like a movie I saw as a child which traumatized me for weeks in which a horse is caught in quicksand and struggles to get out. Now, I feel as if I am that horse. I am exhausted and my body feels disjointed. I feel trapped by emotions I don’t understand and can’t control.


Chapter 9

         The Stages of Grief—the long road to recovery

Sigmund Freud said, “We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love.” The journey to recovery is long, individualistic, and lonely but every tear we shed brings us that much closer to the healing.

 Chapter 10

         Annoying Words of Comfort—a cliché is a sure way to dilute an idea

Many well-meaning people use the same worn out phrases to comfort me. After a while they lose their meaning. A simple “I am here for you” is all that is needed.

Chapter 11

         Encouraging Words and Deeds—make it personal

A personal note or an act of kindness is always appreciated.

Chapter 12

         The Merry Widow—things aren’t as they seem

To some jealous women I appear to have it all with no responsibilities. I am the subject of gossip. I am hurt and confused by the changes in my social circle but I must accept the changes in my life. Times change, people change, but life goes on.

Chapter 13

         Bubble Baths and Wine—what a way to relax

I know I must restore my mental, physical, and emotional health. I develop a bed time ritual of a bubble bath that helps me gradually unwind and relax. Somehow my bedtime routine turns into a rumor that I entertain men with bubble baths and wine.

Chapter 14

         Pick A Little, Talk A Little—mean girls grown up

Handling the negative forces and gossip that come my way; I learn to look at the gossip mongers in a fresh way.

Chapter 15

         Be a Clown—make room for fun and laughter

You can’t be sad while trying to make other people laugh, and laughter is an essential part of healing. Humor helps me overcome the negative.

Chapter 16

         Never Volunteer—unless you want a fresh outlook

I reluctantly volunteer to assist with a new community concert association and find new friends who give me a fresh outlook on life. The most I had hoped for when I joined was to serve punch and coffee and meet a few celebrities backstage. Little did I know that my whole life would change.

Chapter 17

         Let the Force Be with You—be open to unseen and coincidental influences

So many unbelievable coincidences occur that I begin to believe a path is being carved out for me. I follow the path, learning to rely on my intuition.

Chapter 18

         A Smorgasbord of Friends—variety brings spice to life

As I venture out into my new world I am surrounded by many new and interesting people. One of the most exciting aspects is that they are from all types of social, educational, ethnic, religious, and professional backgrounds. I now have a more rounded and grounded life.

Chapter 19

         Finding the Mountaintop—finally, a new life

My journey through the dark valley of hurt, confusion, and depression has taken seven years but I finally made it to the mountaintop.  I have emerged a new person with a new life.

Chapter 20

         A Diamond in the Rough—from lumps of coal to diamonds

Once coal is subjected to ages of extreme heat and pressure, a diamond gemstone emerges. I have been under extreme pressure for a long time but now I am a stronger person for it.

A Letter from the Author

Recipe for Mom’s Fresh Peach Cobbler






Dreams do come true

Dreams come trueI will finally be an officially published author! After a life time of practicing my craft and dreaming of having a published book someday, it is about to happen. My book, Peach Cobbler for Breakfast—surviving a life-altering event, is scheduled to be published in the fall and should be available in time for holiday shopping.

I first began the book in 1991 shortly after my first husband died but found it too painful to write at that time. Over the years I have started and stopped it many times. I have queried many agents and publishers and, in some cases received some encouraging rejection letters; but no one was willing to take a chance on me.

Finally, things began to come together last year when I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me at a breakfast counter. He sat there with his iPhone and Kindle in front of him constantly checking updates and reading an e- book. I learned he was a man of many talents, interests and contacts and, among other things, he designed web sites. He asked what I did and then asked if I had a web site featuring my writings. I answered I did a blog but needed a full service web site. I also talked about my future goals.

After working together for a few months in creating the web site he said he also worked with other authors and he was willing to be my agent. I guess he needed to see I was a serious and dedicated writer and not just some bobble-head.

As I write in PEACH COBBLER FOR BREAKFAST, I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe they are God’s sign posts pointing us to the right path. Here was a man with the answers to many of the obstacles to my goals and I would be a fool not to work with him. Now, one year later, my book is finished under his direction and guidance; and, with his help I finally have a publisher.

Rick Lakin is his name and he blew into my life on the derachio winds. For more details on our chance meeting see Look at what the wind blew in Published on July 31, 2012  (

Thank you, Rick Lakin, for making my dreams come true.

My book is finally finished!

Book Title

Dear Friends,

I have finally finished writing my book—Peach Cobbler for Breakfast—surviving a life altering event. It has been a twenty year labor of love. It is not a recipe book but the story of my journey through self-discovery to recovery after the death of my first husband. You might say it is my recipe for positive living. Don’t think of this book as a downer because of the subject matter, there is a lot of humor included. I couldn’t have survived without humor.

I began writing Peach Cobbler for Breakfast shortly after he died and have worked on it periodically over the years. As I have talked with others who have suffered losses (either through death or divorce) of a spouse, parent, friend, or even a job, I discovered that almost everyone experiences similar feelings, emotions, and transitions. Life will never be the same but it is how we face those changes that define us and make us stronger. I hope my observations and experiences will help make the journey easier for others facing the same uncertain future.

Peach Cobbler for Breakfast is now in the hands of a publisher and, although nothing is definite yet, my agent thinks it should be out in time for holiday shopping. To give you an idea of what the book is about here is an excerpt from:




Peach Cobbler for Breakfast

surviving a life-altering event

By Sheila Moore Thornburg Dobbie




“Faster than a speeding bullet!  More powerful than a locomotive….”  This quote is immediately familiar to Superman fans of all ages; but, these were the only words I could think of as I heard the diagnosis of cancer time and again in a two year period.

This disease had invaded our family faster than a bullet and had decimated it with the force of a speeding train and now I needed the strength of a superman to survive.

When I was in my 40’s I went through the worst time of my life. In a two year span I lost six family members, including my father and husband within six months of each other—my father to a brain tumor and my husband to bladder cancer. It is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through a similar experience what it feels like to lose the center of your universe.

I will spare the reader and myself the pain of reliving every detail of that time. At a time when my friends were planning high school graduations, colleges and weddings for their children, I was planning or attending funerals. I was angry at the world, afraid of the future, and confused.

Much of the time I was in a state of shock, numb to both joy and pain. I seemed to live day to day in a haze trying to cope with each crisis as it came along. Once you have been hit by a speeding train and endured the pain of impact you become numb to repetitive shocks. I do not mean to minimize the magnitude of the events but rather to put everything into perspective. Things, literally, could not get much worse. Everyone I loved had been touched in some way by the catastrophic events surrounding us.

Perhaps our bodies learn to insulate us against pain, death and sorrow so we can carry on. We learn we can make it through one day and then the next and we continue living our lives one day at a time until we eventually make it out of the dark valley. It may be like living as a zombie but it works.

An old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I repeated this to myself many times when the journey looked too difficult or I didn’t have the energy to continue. I reminded myself that I didn’t have to do the whole journey in one day and, if all I could do that day was take one step, then that was all that was needed.

I kept the pain to myself and put on my happy face when going out into the world. I did my crying in the shower so my husband didn’t know how worried I was. I tried to keep positive for him and others. A morbid curiosity surrounds people with a debilitating or fatal disease. It’s almost as if people are searching the faces of the patient or his loved ones for any sign things are getting worse. I wanted to be sure people saw only signs of hope in my face so I applied my smile each morning along with my makeup and faced the world with a façade of confidence.


David and I met at church when I was 15 and he was 17. We dated throughout high school and college and then married after dating for seven years. We fell in love to Moon River by Andy Williams and Today by the New Christy Minstrels, held hands during My Fair Lady and Sound of Music, cheered our losing football team at Marshall University and stole a kiss whenever possible. When we finally did get married there was a large clap of thunder just when the minister pronounced us man and wife and everyone said it was the man upstairs saying, “It’s about time!”

It was during the turbulent 60’s and it seemed that our lives were in as much turmoil as the rest of the world but we finally realized our goals of graduating from college. There were the pressures of college, work, integration, bussing, demonstrations, drugs, flower power, communism, the bomb, and the ever-present and growing disruption of the Vietnam War (or as some preferred–conflict). It certainly “conflicted” our lives because if the guys didn’t keep up a certain GPA, dropped out of college, or didn’t finish within the expected four years, then there was the draft to look forward to. One professor said almost daily, “You guys better study or you will be slogging around the in the rice paddies.”  We swore he was a recruiter for the draft board.

After graduation and a brief stint with Uncle Sam, we were finally free to strike out on our own. We headed for the big city of Columbus, Ohio which seemed perfect for us. It was three hours from home, which meant it was close enough so we could get home quickly in case of an emergency, and far enough away so relatives couldn’t drop in unexpectedly. I think those were my Dad’s words.

My first visit to Columbus was something right out of The Jetsons’ cartoon when my family, David, and I attended the Ohio State Fair in 1962. At the time it was perhaps the largest state fair in the country. We drove into the city on one of the first Interstate Highways I had ever seen and whirling above the city were helicopters whizzing by. This was all very new and exciting for a kid from the hills of West Virginia. As we left late that night, fireworks were bursting over the city and I felt as if I had been to the City of Oz. I immediately fell in love with Columbus and when David and I married a few years later we decided that was the place for us.

Armed with our degrees and naïve enthusiasm we headed for the big city–he to become an architect and I a teacher. We found jobs and changed jobs, we made money and lost money, we started and closed businesses, we loved and we fought. We had the usual ups and downs and disappointments most people go through but, through it all, we said that the only thing that mattered was that we had each other. We felt we could survive and conquer almost anything as long as we were side by side.

All too quickly 23 years of married life passed and it became apparent that David would not survive the bladder cancer that had stricken him at age 45. As I watched him during those last days in the hospital I thought of the good times we had but also of the hectic life we had led. Where did it get us?  I would gladly give up everything to know he would continue by my side forever. Why hadn’t we taken more vacations or weekend trips?  Why hadn’t we found more time for just us?  Life is too short.

For the first time I had to face the world alone. I may not be superman but I will survive this hell.