Thoughts on: Eating Smoke by Chris Thrall

January 26, 2012

Eating Smoke: One Man’s Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong’s Triad Heartland by Chris Thrall is a memoir of the author’s time being a drug addict in Hong Kong. The book takes a good look at into the red light district of Hong Kong, the colorful Wan Chai district.

My rating for Eating Smoke4

Great price on this book inpaperorelec­tronicfor­mat
through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account

Eating Smoke: One Man’s Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong’s Triad Heartland by Chris Thrall (website | Facebook) chronicles the author, an ex-Royal Marine, downfall into the world of drugs in Hong Kong.

There are several viewpoints one could read this book as: a funny memoir, a cautionary tale, a how-not-to-succeed-in business book, a how-not-to-choose-your-friends type of story, a smart-guy-doing-stupid-things anecdote, or as a foreigner in a foreign land story. Of course, all of the above would also apply.

Besides the drug addict mindset which I cannot understand or comprehend, I found Mr. thrall’s stories about Chinese culture fascinating. The stories of the jobs he got simply on the base of his pale face are funny and somewhat disturbing. The condition wasn’t only a white face for a company’s prestige, but also the inability to speak the language and hence reduce the danger of understanding the business (and eventually competing with it).

Just the jobs Mr. Thrall got based on his white face could make a separate book. From phone book scams, teaching English, a DJ in China or a bouncer – most of those he wasn’t qualified to do especially given his addiction. While I always assumed that there must be a group of expats working with the Triads, this colorful book certainly proves that is the issue.

What I found fascinating is Mr. Thrall’s attitude throughout his ordeal. Regardless of his failures he keeps an optimistic view of life and a bitter cheerfulness which could be envied. However, by the end of the book the author is paranoid and a shadow of the man he used to be.

The descriptions of paranoia are vivid and sometimes scary. The reader never actually knows what is real and what isn’t; much like Mr. Thrall was at his state of mind.

Some of the anecdotes are repetitive or are used as a setup for a punch line but the story moves at a fast pace, is very engaging and the author comes across as a likeable guy.

Books in similar vein:
At the Devil’s Table by William C. Rempel
On China by Henry Kissinger

So tell me, does it matter to you if the author is a likeable person in his/hers memoirs?

At eighteen Chris Thrall joined the Royal Marine Commandos serving in Northern Ireland and earning his well deserved merits. However, the lure of business and money were strong.

In 1995, Mr. Thrall moved to Hong Kong to expand his network marketing business. Several months later he is homeless, a drug addicts and working for a Chinese Triad as a doorman.

Great price on this book inpaperorelec­tronicfor­mat
through the Man of la Book Affil­i­ate Account

Zohar – Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free from Lightning Book Promotions

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BOOK BLOGGERS – Have you read Eating Smoke? If so link up your review below:

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  • teressa oliverJanuary 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

    There are so many social implications here, but then so true of the time we live in with multiple complications, Great review. And its less than most Kindle books too

  • MarjorieJanuary 27, 2012 at 8:54 am

    This book sounds like an interesting read, I really enjoy reading about cultures from different countries.

  • C.E. HartJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I enjoyed your review, although this doesn’t sound like a book for me. 😉

  • Jennifer, bookspersonallyJanuary 29, 2012 at 8:51 am

    wow, the cultural aspects of it do sound really interesting; sounds like the addiction part a bit of a challenge

  • John GaynardApril 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

    A very interesting review, Zohar. The way you described it brought to mind that great novel of the Indian underbelly, Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts.
    Keep up the good work!

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