Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review: Long Past Stopping

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.

Oran Canfield, Long Past Stopping: A Memoir (William Morrow, 2009) ISBN: 0061450758

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