HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Oran Canfield

Musician, Writer, Addiction Survivor


  • Long Past Stopping: Battling Addiction, Surviving in Recovery
  • Using Creativity to Process Life's Journey


New York

Oran Canfield is a musician, a freelance art handler, and the author of Long Past Stopping (William Morrow), his wry, edgy, and often hilarious memoir about his struggle to overcome a childhood dismantled by hypocrisy and an adulthood plagued by heroin addiction. In early in 2001, after seven separate stints in rehab, he got clean when attending an experimental treatment center in the Caribbean islands.

Hippies, circus clowns, drugs, radical thinkers, a broken family, madcap teachers, experimental music, rehab... welcome to the life of Canfield, the son of a psychologist and khaki-wearing motivational speaker Jack Canfield (yes, that Jack Canfield - creator of the best-selling self-help series Chicken Soup for the Soul). A life full of adventure and mayhem, pain and reconciliation. In the tradition of Augusten Burroughs, Canfield grapples with the vagaries of addiction in a world as dizzyingly sober as it is stoned. Unmoored but fiercely intelligent, Canfield learns to hold his own, delivering newspapers on a unicycle, juggling for a professional circus, and somehow surviving every bewildering adult he encounters.

As an adult, Canfield floats from menial job to menial job and plays drums in a number of fringe California bands, encountering a host of weird characters along the way - Grux, a singer and longtime devotee of obscure noise music, a deranged and paranoid roommate who wakes Canfield up at knife point, and a Stanford professor who supplies him with his first hit of heroin. Even Wavy Gravy and Jerry Garcia make cameos, as he struggles with a crippling heroin addiction - eventually selling off every possession and burning every bridge along the way, all to feed a drug dependency that confounds him.

Canfield seamlessly alternates between two different perspectives: a young Oran trying to navigate his way through a rather unorthodox and zany adolescence and an adult Oran still struggling to reconcile the many forces that contributed in bringing him to his current state. From Steps 1 through 12 and back again, he must boldly confront the paradoxical and confounding truths and people of his life - and find his own way through the cliché that self-help can be.

Canfield was raised in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, New Mexico, Arizona, and the San Francisco Bay area. While attending the San Francisco Art Institute, Oran began his career as a drummer and became heavily involved in San Francisco's flourishing underground music and art communities. Along with his involvement as a drummer for numerous bands in the nineties, he also owned and operated a recording studio and co-operated a music venue featuring experimental and creative jazz music. He has also been a bike messenger, piano restorer, housecleaner, and limo driver, and sex toy maker. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Praise for Long Past Stopping:

"Thank god Oran Canfield came out of this alive and thank double-god he emerged with his sense of humor. So many weird ball characters and harrowing situations that you'd be hard-pressed to make up better ones. This is the kind of life story that begs to be told."
-- Beth Lisick, author of Helping Me Help Myself

"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."
-- Associated Press

"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... The author's deadpan irony is...brilliant..."
-- Kirkus Reviews

"An oddly compelling and appealing account of a life truly stranger than fiction."
-- Booklist