- Paperback: 420 pages
- Publisher: Blacksmith Books (October 16, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9881900298
- ISBN-13: 978-9881900296
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,240,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Eating Smoke: One Man's Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland Paperback – October 16, 2011
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"... exemplary pacing, completely engaging tone, wealth of winning detail. Thrall uses such verve, enthusiasm and faultless comic timing that it is hard not to be swept along." - South China Morning Post
"What else would you expect from a former Royal Marine Commando? Chris Thrall has a hell of a story to tell, and he does so with humour, candour and page-turning prose." - Tom Carter. CHINA: Portrait of a People
"This book works on so many levels. For starters, memoirs can only be successful if the central character is likable. And this is certainly the case for Chris Thrall." - Susan Blumberg-Kason
"Book of the Year." - Time Out Hong Kong
About the Author
Chris Thrall was born in South East London. At eighteen, he joined the Royal Marine Commandos. Following active service in the Northern Ireland Conflict and Arctic warfare and survival training, he earned his parachutist's 'wings' and served in a high-security detachment on board an aircraft carrier.
In 1995, Chris moved to Hong Kong to oversee the Asia-Pacific expansion of a successful network-marketing operation he'd built, part-time, while serving in the Forces. Less than a year later, he was homeless, in psychosis from crystal meth addiction and working for the 14K, a Hong Kong triad society, as a doorman in the infamous Wan Chai red-light district.
'Eating Smoke', a moving yet humorous first book, is not a memoir of regret.
In 1999, Chris fire-walked 120 feet over red-hot coals to raise money to work with street children in post-war Mozambique. He has driven a coach of volunteer journalists to India from Norway and back to highlight the lives of those living in poverty and run a sub-four London Marathon in support of disadvantaged young people. Having raised thousands of pounds for projects in sub-Saharan Africa, Chris was awarded the Second Level Commendation of the Finnish Nation, granted to him on the grounds of Human Generosity.
Chris has backpacked through eighty countries across all seven continents and led a team of explorers from Sweden to Iceland in a vintage army truck. He is a keen snowboarder, a qualified pilot, skydiver and scuba diver, who in 2012 expeditioned to the Antarctic polar circle to dive with icebergs and leopard seals.
With a degree in Youth and Community Work, Chris has worked in mental health, learning disability and is substance misuse specialist. He lives in the UK, where he has written the opening two novels in a thriller series and still hopes to become an astronaut, a dolphin trainer or the Milky Bar Kid.
Top customer reviews
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Hong Kong is a familiar land to me. I lived in Shenzhen for 7 years, visiting Hong Kong a few times a year on business. Chris Thrall's Hong Kong is both familiar and strange. The culture, the language, the people are so vividly brought back by the book, mirroring my memory. But the dark and dingy alleys, the roof tops, elevators of cheap hostels - those were places I only experienced in films. Chris Thrall, the talented painter with words, brought every sound, smell, debris, face... vividly to my mind, adding even a new dimension from the eyes of an expat.
Just that was real treat.
All at the same time, I was following the ex-marine's downward journey to the bottom of the bottom. Curiously, it was not all doom and gloom. Chris has a talent in making you laugh for the saddest moment. I found my eyes swell with tears from both the heart-wrenching turns of events and the humor that so naturally flows out of his pen.
Chris - I'm so glad you decided to write about your true story. It is such an unusual tale and you told it so well! I have only one question: When will we see the movie?
This is a terrifically written book, with lots of extremely interesting whom people he meets at the many jobs he works over his 13 months in Hong Kong.
I really loved this book because the author just tells us what happened to him, and why it did. If you enjoy drug memoirs, like I do, I highly recommend EATING SMOKE!! This is a solid 5 star book.
Thank you, Mr. Thrall, for writing such an honest book. You have a lot of guts, and I wish you nothing but the best!!
Filled with ambition and the confidence that he could succeed in a new country, Chris begins his career in the business world only to realize that his need for adventure is not being met. He turns to the nightclub world, doing stints as a DJ as well as a doorman. During this time, Chris gives an honest and heartfelt impression of the inside of Hong Kong ethos, throwing little tidbits in while he's making every effort to remain respectful of a culture in which he is the ex-pat. However, the drug takes a deeper hold on him and makes it impossible for him to remain long in each job, and his friends come and go. He ends up working for a club run by triads, and as his addiction increases he plays a dangerous game of inadvertently offending the most feared group in Hong Kong.
Chris does an exceptional job portraying his decline into the deepest forms of addiction. Once a self-assured go-getter, he becomes a shell of the man he once was to the point where his friends begin to fear him, his employers have no choice but to release him, and the locals all know of him. His confused and paranoid thoughts leave the reader confused and paranoid as well, all the while hoping that things will eventually get better for our hapless hero. Ever the survivor, Chris takes matters into his own hands, standing up to the triads' games, facing his problem and fighting to take control back. We are left cheering on our tormented protagonist as he stands on the ledge of death or survival, eagerly praying he makes the right choice.
This is a great, fast-paced and engaging read where one will laugh, cry and shiver with fear right along with Mr. Thrall all the way through.
It also takes real courageous to battle and win over personal demons, and even more to share one's failures with the world.
Thank you, Chris.
Disclosure: I am a native and of the former British colony, left over 30 years ago and have not been back since '89.