Another Advanced Copy Review…
Long Past Stopping: A Memoir
by Oran Canfield
Oran Canfield is self destructive, a junkie who despises himself, everyone around him, he will do anything to sabotage his happiness and he’ll spend several hundred pages proving it to you.
Born to (but not really raised by) activist neo-hippie genetic-material-donors (parents isn’t a word I’d use) his father leaves, on his mothers birthday, when Oran’s very young, stating he’s in love with someone else. His not-much-of-a-mother then spends the next decade or so foisting off her problem (raising a child/children she apparently doesn’t really want) on other people. Some whom she’s recently met. Circus schools run by Wavy Gravy. New age/experimental school where ‘field trips’ are shipping the students off to Mexico to work as indentured servants for several weeks.
Oran experiments with drugs and alcohol over the years, starting with getting drunk while at an experimental school at eight years of age when none of the staff stopped the child from swilling wine because this would be a ‘learning experience’ for him. He ends up the typical junkie lying to himself and everyone else about his addiction. Selling everything he owns, stealing from friends and roommates.
Oran going in and out of rehab multiple times never allowing himself to believe or accept the help offered. It’s all garbage as far as he’s concerned. In once circumstance he spends his entire rehab time shooting up in the bathroom and goes into withdrawal upon leaving rehab.
Over and over we’re witness to Oran shooting himself in the foot, blaming others for his problem, running and turning away from anyone who tries to care or help.
I kept looking for the ‘Great Tragedy’; The famous (or about to be famous) musician brought down by drugs. The politician who might have brought prosperity to the country. The doctor that could have cured cancer, etc. and it’s not here. Yes, losing oneself to addiction is a tragedy and I feel bad that he’s gone through it. I kept coming back to this one thought while reading this memoir: “Why should I care?”
Beth Lisick is quoted as saying about this book: “This is the kind of life story that begs to be told.” and I have to ask ‘Why?’ If I wanted to hear tales of addiction, self destruction and tragedy I could attend any AA meeting in the world. Lots of kids who went to the same schools as he were sent off to do manual labor, were picked on, were lonely, were failures with women/girls. Millions have had absentee, abusive or parents who just couldn’t be bothered to care. What makes Oran Canfield’s story so much more special than anyone else’s who’s had a hard life and made bad choices that I need to read a book about it?
His one claim to fame, other than having met some somewhat famous people such as Wavy Gravy and a nameless actor in rehab, is his father wrote ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’. That’s not enough to make his story worth publishing over anyone else’s.
I’m giving this two stars, it deserves two and a half but that’s not an option. The writing isn’t bad. It flows well. It does use one literary vehicle that annoys me a great deal and that is jumping, chapter to chapter, from one time frame to another. Back and forth through the entire book. I much prefer a linear story and saw no reason why this couldn’t have been written that way.
In the end I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Oran or his problems. There wasn’t anything to make him special to me. He’s just one of millions who’s fallen and not been able to get back up again.
Hawk (understand addiction)