Home > memoir, non-fiction > Refined In The Furnace Of Affliction: John McCulloch

Refined In The Furnace Of Affliction: John McCulloch

May 28, 2009


John McCulloch’s oldest son received a head injury at birth, re-sulting in blindness. A second injury at age 28, resulted in his being confined to a nursing home for life. This book is about how these afflictions and others led one family to a positive result.

Refined in the Furnace of Affliction is John McCulloch’s account of both his own life and the life of his son John, who received a head injury at birth and was subsequently disabled. There’s an insistent strand of Christianity and prayer in this book, and a strong focus on the need for family life, and it’s obvious that McCulloch is passionate and devoted to all of these things. Sadly, he isn’t a good writer and that lack of expertise means that this book is a flat, dull read.

Most of the pages reminded me of the journals I used to keep as a child: “I got up and then I had my breakfast and then I brushed my teeth and went to school”. It’s all tell and no show and it’s very disorganised, too: in the middle of what should be a heartbreaking tale of the birth of his disabled son, McCulloch abruptly breaks into an account of how his wife got a good deal on a car.

This is a very badly-written book which I wish I could have reviewed more favourably. I read only eleven of its one hundred and fourteen pages.

  1. May 28, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Jane, your patience with all these books continues to amaze me. I’m impressed you’re able to slog through 11 pages. Based on your your description, I’d have given up after page 2.I’m also amazed these self-published authors are even willing to submit their books to the scrutiny of an experienced industry professional such as yourself. Perhaps the term self-published should be changed to self-delusion.

  2. May 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

    This must have been a seriously difficult book to write. It’s a shame the author didn’t get some quality, professional input. This is the type of story that has the potential to move a lot of people if well told.

  3. May 28, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    The bit in your review about the good deal on the car made me laugh. Maybe it shouldn’t have, because this is obviously a serious book, but what can I say? It struck me as funny.

  4. August 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Maggie, I think it's like the X-Factor auditions: no one who goes there and stands up on that stage really thinks they're bad, and most seem genuinely surprised when they're told to go away. Barb, yes. The subjet-matter of this book has so much potential but it's wasted because of the bad writing and everything else. A waste. And Kristen, your point is very important: the car deal is a perfect example of how a story which has the potential to be intensely moving is transformed into farce. It's the same with many other of the books I've reviewed here: the writers just don't seem to realise what they're writing, and the odd below-par phrase here and there, or the odd diversion from the main strand, spoils the entire text.

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