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Long Past Stopping

Long Past Stopping

4.5 2
by Oran Canfield

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It looked like any other medical chart, with different boxes filled in with my blood pressure and heart rate, but at the bottom, next to Diagnosis, the doctor simply wrote, Terminal Assholism.

Juggled between an endless succession of friends, relatives, anarchist boarding schools, libertarian commune dwellers, socialist rebels, and


It looked like any other medical chart, with different boxes filled in with my blood pressure and heart rate, but at the bottom, next to Diagnosis, the doctor simply wrote, Terminal Assholism.

Juggled between an endless succession of friends, relatives, anarchist boarding schools, libertarian commune dwellers, socialist rebels, and born-again circus clowns, Oran Canfield grew up viewing the inconsistencies of the world with a wary eye. The son of Jack Canfield—the motivational speaker and creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul—Oran is intensely self-conscious and reserved, but his life won't seem to leave him alone. Whether he's teaching two hundred eager self-help disciples to juggle (among them a woman with stumps for hands), dodging a series of wacky near-death experiences, delivering newspapers in satin pants on a unicycle, or experimenting with drugs in the back of a Mexican cop car at age thirteen, one thing's for sure: Oran's life is much stranger than fiction.

Eventually he finds some fleeting comfort in heroin, but the world proves dizzying whether he's stoned or sober. Playing drums in fringe bands and bouncing between rehab centers, he encounters a host of weird characters along the way: a devotee of obscure noise music who makes his own sunglasses out of cardboard, hooligan hockey players left in charge of group therapy, and the unassuming chess nerd who might be in the mob. Feeding a dope addiction that becomes more harrowing by the day, Oran sells off every possession and burns every bridge on the road to recovery.

With humor and wit, Long Past Stopping grapples with the paradoxes of a mad world and shows that feel-good nostrums go only so far. Sometimes the only way out is the hard one.

Editorial Reviews

“An oddly compelling and appealing account of a life truly stranger than fiction.”
Associated Press
“Memoirs about dysfunctional families can be funny, and this book is hilarious… [Canfield] delivers newspapers on a unicycle, wins third place in a juggling competition and experiments with drugs in a Mexican police cruiser. His descriptions are snappy and his side commentary…[makes] you laugh out loud.”
Kirkus Reviews
The son of Chicken Soup for the Soul creator Jack Canfield debuts with a memoir of a peripatetic West Coast childhood and subsequent struggle with drug addiction, told in a series of humorous vignettes. By the time he was four, Canfield had suffered his father's desertion ("from everything I'd heard he was the lying, cheating, conniving, manipulative, inhuman son of a bitch who had left my mom when I was one and she was six months pregnant") and his mother spending their two years in Mexico walking "from village to village wearing a Guatemalan dress and combat boots," crusading against the Nestle Corporation with her two young sons in tow. After moving to New Mexico, the author's mother left them in the care of two kindly strangers named Carol and Ed, who ran an alternative school. It was there that Canfield began drinking, at the age of seven. When Carol and Ed could no longer cope, the boys were shuttled off to live in an apartment with their grandmother. Things spiraled downward from there: foster care, a fundamentalist Christian school, time with a Sufi clown and a stint in the circus, an emerging heroin addiction, a visit to an anarchist's collective in Detroit, a nearly fatal drug-related accident and failed efforts at rehab. The memoir is divided into short chapters with wry titles, and further divided into a series of loosely connected paragraphs that shift in time and place. The chronology is occasionally difficult to follow, and though engaging, the vignettes don't always cohere into a smooth narrative. The author's deadpan irony is periodically brilliant, but the overall effect of the relentless humor is a kind of distancing of character that results in a somewhat disaffectedmemoir. An unconventional childhood described through the lens of the author's battle with substance abuse, likely to be of the most interest to those recovering from an addiction. Regional author appearances in New York and San Francisco

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)


Meet the Author

Oran Canfield was raised in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, New Mexico, Arizona, and the San Francisco Bay Area. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works as a musician and freelance art handler.

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Long Past Stopping 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
JackCanfield More than 1 year ago
I am extremely proud of my son and the book he has written. From its inception it has been the source of a profound healing in our family. I am grateful for his courage in recounting his journey, as difficult as it was for him to revisit all these painful moments in his experience in growing up into the incredible man of integrity he has become. While the book does cover a lot of bizarre and painful moments in Oran's life, it is written well and it is written with an amazing amount of humor. I definitely laughed out loud as many times as I cried. He has a real talent for writing in a way that keeps you turning the pages-wanting to know what happens next. I hope you'll read this book and that it will help you see where you too can confront your own inner demons. I hope it will inspire you to get out of denial and into telling the truth to and listening to the truth from the people you care about in your life-especially your children. It was two years ago when my son Oran told me he was writing a memoir about his childhood-growing up with an absentee father, an unconventional mother, travelling with a circus when he was nine years old, going to middle school in Berkeley during the eighties, being educated in an alternative high school in Sedona, Arizona, his long, slow descent into the drug culture ending up with a heroin addiction, and his rocky (but eventually successful) road to recovery. Over time, as Oran began to trust that I really was in support of his writing the book, he finally agreed to show me some of the chapters he had written. Reading the chapters he sent was very difficult. My reactions were all over the map. There were places where I felt like Oran had totally misread me and misinterpreted my intentions. I felt like the person I was and the person who was being portrayed in his book were not the same person. In fact, I remember that about a week after he had sent the chapters for me to read, my wife asked me to call Oran and talk to him, and I yelled something like, "Why would I want to talk to someone who hates me!" But as I reread those chapters and later the complete manuscript, I began to realize how, through the eyes of his experience, he could have perceived things the way he did. My compassion for the pain of his childhood, the isolation and loneliness he experienced, the fear that often overpowered him, the distrust, the cynicism, and the protective mechanisms that he had developed all made perfect sense to me. How could it have been otherwise? Having now read the book in its entirety, I am truly amazed that Oran survived his childhood as well as he did. He is one very strong and resilient individual, and I respect him for that. As painful as it has been to confront the psychological damage created by my divorce from Oran's mother and the years of separation caused by my own fears and lack of awareness at some crucial times in Oran's growing up, the writing of his book has become a catalyst for my own growth and healing. Together, we have been to several family retreats and broken through many of the past barriers of distrust, fear and separation. We have engaged in open, undefended and emotionally honest communication and have come to understand and appreciate each other at much deeper levels. While we both still have a lot of growing to do, I know we are on the path. And for now that is enough. As Oran likes to say, the only way out is through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago