Reader reviews for Long Past Stopping

Long Past Stopping is a memoir about Oran Canfield's almost unbelievable life. It often reads like fiction. The chapters alternate between stories of his unconventional and often difficult childhood and his struggles with addiction and rehab in his adult years. Though the topics covered are quite heavy, Canfield's sense of humor keeps things lighter for the reader. This book is definitely a page turner.
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Oran Canfield was raised by his mother, a therapist with unconventional views on child rearing, nutrition and almost everything else. Oran and his brother Kyle were frequently left by their mother at quirky boarding schools, or with virtual strangers, or with the circus. His father is a self-help guru, the creator of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books, who abandoned Oran when he was a year old (and his mother was pregnant with Kyle). Jack Canfield seemed unable to provide any guidance or support to Oran.It is not surprising that Oran had difficulty relating to people, a lot of creativity, and an addictive personality. This is Oran's story of his childhood and his struggle as a young adult with heroin addiction.Oran Canfield is a good story teller, and has portrayed his struggles with honesty and, at times, with humour.
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This is the memoir of Oran Canfield, who was born in the mid-1970's to two psychologists who ran a holistic health center. His father leaves the family and becomes mainstream Christian motivational speaker Jack Canfield, while his mother tries to find the Oran and his brother Kyle the environment they need to be happy and creative. This includes time training Oran for a juggling career and tenure at an experimental private school. During his 20's, Oran attends art school but then finds that he is happier and more successful as a drummer with local groups in San Francisco. As he gets involved with a heroin addiction, however, his music-scene friends, his family, his estranged father, and his many rehab counselors all try to help him get back to his earlier self.Canfield interleaves chapters from his childhood with those from his 20's, structuring it very tightly so that there are little echoes across adjacent chapters. Although there is a lot that happens, it feels like it moves very quickly because of its tight structure. This is a warm and moving book about the many people who love Oran in their many different ways. It is a sad and frustrating book about the confused thought processes and physical challenges of quitting an addictive drug. It is also an eye-opening book about the 1990's musical counterculture and the ways in which "misfit" people finally find friendship and something satisfying and productive to do by finding each other.//Received May 2010 for Early Reviewers program
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I have to admit that I was first attracted to this book because it was written by the son of the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy. A memoir about growing up with chicken-soup dad was bound to be interesting. Upon reading, I found that there's actually very little about being a Canfield kid in here. That's because Jack Canfield, who peddles heartwarming claptrap to millions, abandoned his wife and sons when the children were infants (one was still in utero). Oran Canfield grew up by and large without his father; his childhood was by all accounts unconventional. So, what exactly is this book? It's a mix: half a memoir of addiction, and half a reminiscence of a very unconventional childhood. Told in alternating chapters between childhood and adulthood, we learn of Oran's descent into heroin and cocaine addiction, and how he grew up in the circus, hippie communes, and experimental schools. As a memoir of addiction Canfield does a good job illustrating the hopelessness that surrounds addiction, and the significant difficulties involved in overcoming them. I did find the back and forth of the book quite distracting. Just as I would get engaged in one thread of the narrative it would shift to something completely different. Overall this memoir kept me engaged, and certainly made me feel for both the child and adult Oran.
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There are people who will not like this book, either due to the drug use or the very poor advertising on the cover, which makes it sound very hipster and pretentious. For example, there's a quote from the book about how one of his rehab docs diagnosed him with "terminal assholism". A bit overly cute, I thought, but in the context of the book it's funny without being obnoxious.Though I was wary of self-important showing off judging by the cover alone, I was quickly engaged by Canfield's candid and clear style. I was equally interested in and harrowed by the childhood tales and the addiction years, which are told in alternating chapters (each in chronological order, until the childhood years meet the beginning of addiction years). Though Canfield doesn't try to assess why he becomes an addict, it seems a reasonable enough conclusion to such an odd upbringing. He is in and out of rehab so often that you start being amazed he was able to remember all the distinct times, and when I saw that the book was about to end, I worried that I wouldn't buy whatever he said stopped his addictive behaviors -- but ultimately, he does a very nice job of explaining how it worked out for him, without any too-tidy summarizing that a lot of confessional writing ends with; i.e., he avoids suggesting such dubious sentiments as "but I'm over it now and a stronger person for it". Most impressive about this memoir is how completely he shares his tale, down to totally exposing who his father, who left his mother when he was 18 months old and she was pregnant, is (the author of the "Chicken Soup" books), and details of both their relationship and his father's disturbing industry. The childhood stories are starkly, painfully poignant, and completely wild.
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Although I found Canfield's book amusing and entertaining, I also found it difficult to follow. Several chapters seemed similar to another and made me feel as though he was trying to entertain us rather than inform us. I hope that his intention was to inform people about how much his abandonment issues and chaotic childhood contributed to his addiction, Instead, I felt he was solely trying to write a funny book. So while the combination would have been fine, I felt the effort to be comicalwas a bit misplaced in this clearly sad story. Did he make the best of the life his dysfunctional parents forced on him? Yes. But his behavior also tramautized others in his life who wanted to help him find peace. I found the chapters a bit monotonous though some of them were funny.I would recommend this book to readers that will be entertained by his unconventional life without being overly shocked by his abandonment by his later famous father.
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I really enjoyed this memoir. It was touching and interesting and really gave me insight into an unfamiliar world. It's written well and keeps you wanting more.
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Tried three times to get into it. Just couldn't get past the first two chapters. Had a hard time keeping my attention...
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"Long Past Stopping" finally showed up in my mailbox on Thursday 13 August, the day before i left for vacation. Cool, i thought, something to read on the airplane. I've never read a memoir before, so i can't compare Canfield's structure with others, but i found his book involving and intriguing.No question, Oran Canfield had a very unusual childhood, described as the chapters alternate between those days and his adult life. His unusual experiences as a young boy, coupled with his own personality, clearly shaped his inability to connect with people, an alienation that makes him uncomfortable. He was abandoned at age one by his father, a famous author and psychotherapist, who occasionally gives him money and shallow insincere pep-talks on rare face-to-face meetings, rather than any genuine human connection. As he was raised by his mother, who has very odd ideas about food, clothing, and education, which often included fostering him out, sometimes to complete strangers, Oran frequently finds himself without much structure, guidance, or emotional support.As a young adult, he is a wannabe artist/musician. Eventually he feels his persistent discomfort with others, as well as with his own feelings, is alleviated by heroin. He goes from someone with creative potential to a compulsive junkie who manipulates strangers and steals from his friends. Even when he is very strung-out on heroin, he is unwilling to admit he's an addict, continuing through many unsuccessful attempts to break the habit.Throughout, Canfield is an engaging story teller. I found frequent laughs in his wry story of bizarre youth and addicted adulthood. I sympathized with him as a child but was frustrated by him as a young man who cannot see what he is doing to himself.Eventually he triumphs over his heroin addiction and alcoholism, but the ending of the book simply peters out. I wanted to know a bit more about Oran in recovery and found the weak conclusion unsatisfactory. I hope he has some more books in him, because he certainly has skill as a writer.
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The book is fast-paced and a quick read, but it is by no means a light and breezy book. The wit used does not disguise its serious subject matter, drug addiction. True to addict behavior, Oran is completely self-centered and self-absorbed. His autobiographical account of life through 26 and sobriety is well-written and thought-provoking. The chapters alternate between his childhood and his early 20s when he bounced in and out of rehab. His childhood had 2 constants: juggling and inconsistency. His parents, both successful therapists, basically abandoned him. While there are humorous parts, the childhood chapters are sad, as Oran is dumped off and discarded from school to school and location to location. The chapters discussing his drug usage and rehabs are compelling and haunting. They do not glorify an addict’s life, as some other books about alcoholism and drug addiction do. Those chapters are raw and real and recount a very few highs and the numerous and overwhelming lows of his experiences. Canfield is not a likable character (for lack of a better description), but I needed to find out what happened and how he survived his struggle.I liked the book, but it is not for everyone. Readers should be ready to settle in for some incredibly heartbreaking moments. It’s definitely a story of survival, but there are times I questioned if and how he would make it and whether or not I thought he should make it.
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