Author: Chris Maden
Published: June 2021 by Mung Cha Cha Press
Category: Historical, Fiction,
Stanley Price’s ambition is to be an explorer. He joins the army and is posted to this vibrant, free-wheeling entrepot, a metropolis on the make. This officer, scoundrel and rake is seduced by the glamour, the sideways glances and the gung-ho spirit; the bribes, the beer and the brash integrity. His ambitions get swept to the side – until he meets a young lady: his nemesis or his redemption?
Price’s Price is described as ‘a light-hearted and elegiac mock-memoir’ and I think that sums it up pretty well. Stanley Featherstonehaugh Price spent his childhood in Zimbabwe and his boyhood in English schools. He had dreams of exploration in deepest Africa and beyond just as soon as he came into his inheritance, which he believed would become his when he reached his eighteenth birthday. It came as a huge blow to discover he wouldn’t get anything until he was either twenty-five or married. Stanley tried for the second option but his marriage strategy was scuppered when his intended married someone else.
Thus, I formed my creed. What the Fates have in store is beyond the ken of any mortal, but the point is to face their whims with a sense of adventure and fun. Not fatalism, which is an abnegation of life, but rather a vicarious acceptance of all that they threw in my path.
Stanley decided to join the army, believing they might be persuaded to fund an expedition. After a year at Sandhurst and another in the mountains of Nepal with the Gurkhas, he was asked where he wanted to be stationed. Anywhere but Hong Kong was Stanley’s answer. So Hong Kong it was.
Stanley seemed to drift through life, at the mercy of his desires but lamenting at times the non realisation of his dreams of exploration. His was a louche lifestyle fuelled in large parts by sex, booze and the desire for wealth. With descriptive prose Chris Maden portrays a vivid picture of Stanley’s life in Hong Kong with all its ups and downs, bars, clubs, brief (and longer) encounters, businesses and wealth made then lost.
A very expressive, unusual and at times poignant read, with a memorable protagonist. I enjoyed it.
I chose to read and review Price’s Price for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy kindly supplied the author.
Chris Maden has lived and sometimes even worked in Hong Kong since 1987. He loves high lonely places and the deep blue ocean; he has travelled through much of South, East and South-East Asia, and done furloughs in the Middle-East and North Africa, all of which he brings to his writing. He writes for the Hong Kong Free Press and Hong Kong Review of Books, and is chairman of Hong Kong Writers’ Circle. He has published a few short stories, and is working on a couple of novels.