Today’s team review is from Jenni.
Find out more about Jenni here https://jenniferdebie.com/
Jenni has been reading Price’s Price by Chris Maden
There is what I would call a ‘style curve’ to the opening of Chris Maden’s debut novel, Price’s Price. The prose has a drifting, distanced quality, like looking at the world through a softened lens, that can be off-putting to readers as we are introduced to Stanley Price, first as he sits waiting in a bar for a woman from the past, and then are catapulted through a flashback to his childhood as the son of a plantation owner in mid-20th century Zimbabwe. Childhood in Africa drifts into boyhood spent in British boarding schools, misspent teenage years sampling the delights of London and Europe, a near miss or two with assorted women of varying levels of repute, and a commission in the British Army that takes him around the world, but always there is distance between Price and the world around him. A distance that translates to isolation even from the readers following along with his memories, seeing everything through his eyes.
The drifting style of storytelling never changes, never sharpens once Price lands in Hong Kong in the 1970s, dispatched there by the British Army to police the border and exist as a colonizing presence in a city that has no real use for colonizers, yet the prose fits the man to a T. Slowly Price is absorbed by Hong Kong, its women, its politics, its corruption, never seemingly on purpose, and yet he drifts on from scene to scene, year to year, boom to bust as the markets surge and sink. Through it all the inherent aimlessness of Price’s trajectory is mirrored in the style in which Maden writes him, and somewhere along the way readers stop being bothered by the writing and are absorbed by it instead.
Price’s journey is pungent, redolent with perfume and liquor, sweat and sex, fortunes made and lost all at the whim of the Fates he so frequently looks to, and somewhere in the middle of this Maden has created an incredibly compelling character. Stanley Price, as written, is neither terribly good, nor terribly bad, as a person. He is neither a genius, nor an idiot. He is not always a good friend, but then goes to great lengths for those he cares about. He’s just a man. A man full of flaws and potential and an ability to adapt to the world around him, even as the earth on which he stands shifts with every change in the wind.
Hong Kong is a city in flux, and Maden’s sense of the time, place, and rapidly changing social, political, and economic situation of the 1970s and ‘80s feels tangible to the reader. From seedy bars to exclusive clubs, smuggling scams and factory floors, Maden sends his protagonist wandering through all, and as the reader wanders with him we can’t help but be amazed at the situations Price finds himself in.
And the many scrapes that he must talk himself out of.
Beautiful, strange, unflinching in the way it portrays a descent into corruption and the ways a man must redeem himself by small measures again and again, reading Price’s Price was an experience I find difficult to describe beyond saying simply, it’s good. It’s very, very good.
Stanley Price has dreamt since childhood of exploring the world. But, when the army posts him to Hong Kong in the 1960s, this officer, scoundrel and rake falls for the glamour, the girls and the gung-ho attitude. Swept along and seduced by this free-wheeling city, he is sucked into a delightful vortex of beer, women and bribes. His dreams remain ever-present but out of reach. Until, that is, he falls for a young lady who could be his redemption – or his nemesis.
Lovely review, Jenni. I love this line in your review, “it’s good. It’s very, very good.” It says it all.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thanks, Jenni. A compelling and passionate review. You’ve sold it to me.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Pingback: 📚’Beautiful, strange, unflinching in the way it portrays a descent into corruption’. Jenni reviews Price’s Price by Chris Maden, for Rosie’s Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog - Us Viral Trending