Hold me back
Sure, being a parent is hard work--but it's not impossible. Like any job, however, it really helps to show up. The parents of Oran Canfield--author of Long Past Stopping—had trouble with that part of the job description. Oran’s dad left home when Oran was one and his mom was pregnant with Oran's brother. The dad is Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series (I’m choosing not to link this title). Usually, a kid can withstand having one deadbeat parent--Oran had two. Oran's mom is a therapist and unable to care for the kids (I'm still unclear why), choosing instead to farm the kids out to 1960s activists and unconventional boarding schools every chance she gets. She's pretty much absent throughout the book and, when Oran was 9(!!!!), she sent him to join the circus (again--!!!!). Oran started drinking when he was 8, had his first acid trip at 14 (with Jerry Garcia's daughter) and became a heroin addict soon after. It's not surprising that Oran became a drug addict. What’s amazing is that he's still alive. Oran writes hilariously and without self-pity about his countless trips in and out of rehab. Here's Oran's take on his dad's books: "I had always thought that his whole self-help schtick was a racket, but his new book exceeded the limits of what I thought was possible in terms of sheer vapidity." I'm with Oran. One of Jack’s 2007 titles is Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul. Seriously. And, if vapidity's what you're after, check out Jack’s website. I should mention that Oran's father did pay for much of Oran’s rehab. I guess that's something, but the way I see it--too little, too late pal. By the end of the book—great news--Oran is drug free and has begun to have a relationship with his dad. "For the first time," Oran writes, "I'm actually able to see that they really were doing the best they could . . . I'm sick of hating them." Good for Oran. I applaud his attitude and truly hope that a revived relationship with his parents helps him stay healthy. Personally, I’ve got no time for Jack Canfield or his books (according to Jack's Wikipedia entry, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series was among the top 150 best-selling books of the last 15 years--go figure). After reading about Jack’s continued and extensive disregard of his children as he concentrated solely on his own needs, amassing enormous wealth from publishing tripe, I'm even off soup. My re-cap: Read Long Past Stopping. It’s a touching, funny, and well-written memoir. If your soul requires chicken soup, however, you’d be better served by the variety that comes in a bowl.