The Importance of Being Cool

Explore an urban underworld where many people get lost, lose it or just disappear! Twenty-something Oli shapes a torrent of chemicals into a searing account of survival in the urban Melbourne scene.

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Winner, IP Picks Best Creative Non-Fiction, 2010.

Explore an urban underworld where many people get lost, lose it or just disappear! Twenty-something Oli shapes a torrent of chemicals into a searing account of survival in the urban Melbourne scene.

Amidst ravenous addictions, spiralling dead ends and violence on both sides of the law, Oli keeps her wits, and her life, to record this story.

On slippery ground all the way, it soon becomes clear why in this world – you have to stay cool.

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Olwyn Conrau

Olwyn Conrau has worked as a journalist, public relations consultant, copywriter, go-go dancer, typist, telemarketer and fruit-picker. She holds a degree in literary studies and has been published in short story anthologies and mainstream print media. The Importance of Being Cool is her first book.


I was busy preparing for a big night out. I spilled the contents of the foil onto a mirror creating a huge pile of white that begged me to devour the salty mass. I sliced it up with a razor, drew a long line, put a straw to my nose and inhaled the lot in one sweeping breath. My friend, Jonny, put two large glasses on the plastic coffee table and filled them unevenly with tequila. The fringes on his suede jacket rubbed over the packed ashtray causing ash to jump into the stale air and land in our drinks. He skolled his tequila and poured another. I offered him the mirror. He grimaced as if disgusted or unsure but then changed his mind and held out his hand. I passed the speed and mirror to him.

The effect had hit me straight away. I wanted to move, get out, but we remained preoccupied with our drinks and preparations that would see us through the evening. A night out without props was like a night on the couch in front of a broken telly, boring and pointless. And just getting drunk only served to shorten the night. It also cost too much money and generally turned you into an uncool loser, something to be avoided.

I lit a cigarette, took a few drags, then stubbed out the half-smoked stem and slumped onto the floor. Cradling the glass, I watched the contents swim around, almost mesmerised. I made a half-hearted effort to clean the drink by sticking my finger into it hoping the cinders would stick. I gave up and tossed the murky substance down my throat. I almost choked on the residue but I didn’t care. Enough shit pumped through my body for there not to be any point in my being concerned.

I tapped my glass on the table hinting for a refill but Jonny ignored me, too engrossed in the artistic manoeuvre of rolling a joint. I scanned the room to see what I could discover about him.

ISBN : 9781921479687
Weight N/A
Dimensions N/A

Ebook, PB


ePub, mobi(kindle), PB, pdf

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 1 review

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    The honesty of Conrau’s memoir glows with a rare humility that is almost devoid of self-consciousness – a powerful attribute in this genre. As this approachable speaker lures readers along the labyrinth of her journey, which in various shades may be familiar to many, it is a tale marked by descent. At the start, the storyline is peaked by highs and substance-fuelled friendships but over time, the narrative is gradually underscored by trenches, hangovers and betrayals.

    While the content may be familiar, the angle is presented in an original way. This Melbourne woman propels us through a galaxy of substances, a collage of self-indulgent, sometimes drug-addled men, and the ever-present need for cash, which in itself, reads like a knotted metaphor for survival. All while, this metaphor slowly tightens around the speaker herself.

    Elements of the speaker’s world spark with contemporary, global issues, such as the posing of illegal drugs against prescription pills; and staging bomb threats alongside mistrust for the very forces which claim to protect us. Lucid, crisp and sometimes funny, the memoir covers slippery ground while maintaining a searing focus.

    – IP Picks 2010 Judges’ Report

    July 25, 2023

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