Attorney, life coach, and former addict John T. Long presents a memoir, self-help guide hybrid exploring how metaphysical spirituality (along with Alcoholics Anonymous) helped him on his recovery journey. The book spans Long’s teenage years through recent history, beginning in the 1970s when he first started experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and also engaged in the first of a long series of codependent and abusive relationships with women. He moves through a number of jobs and marriages over the years as his substance abuse problem escalated and ultimately reached a climax with a crack addiction and a car crash in which he severely (and intentionally) injured his then-wife. After a stint in rehab, Long then began attending AA meetings, while also studying the works of gurus like Marianne Williamson and William Dyer. He also recounts being cured of the aftereffects of a stroke by faith healer John of God (who has since been accused of sexual abuse by over 600 women).
Long’s narrative is disturbing, but it seems as though his authorial intent is to demonstrate the depths of his degradation and despair as a result of addiction as a sort of cautionary tale. Nevertheless, readers should be aware that the book is filled with unpleasant, and often bizarre content. Perhaps strangest is his account of his marriage to his second wife, who suffered from severe asthma. He recalls asking for a “conjugal visit” at the hospital when she had just emerged from a coma, and later, when she was confined to a wheelchair, accusing her of faking her illness. She died a short time later. While it’s possible these stories are meant to demonstrate the callousness of his behavior prior to seeking treatment, at no point does he make this clear.
The book could have benefited from an additional round of editing, as there are grammatical and stylistic mistakes (every mention of a year in the book is written out in words, as in “nineteen seventy-five”) and a few repeated phrases scattered throughout. There are also some seemingly pointless anecdotes, including a story about contesting an insurance fee with U-Haul’s customer service department.
Readers interested in learning about metaphysical spirituality, including crystal healing, aura readings, and chakra-focused meditation will find some interesting material here, as Long shares his firsthand experience with learning about and incorporating these practices into his life. He also offers astute (and hard-won) commentary about setting aside one’s ego and learning to trust God in order to live a more authentic spiritual life.
THE BOOK OF JOHN is a strange amalgam of New Age spirituality and addiction recovery testimonial from an author who hit rock bottom and lived to tell the tale. Long’s account is compelling, but he lacks storytelling ability and his editor fell asleep at the wheel.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader