'I had no idea how free we were. That's how free I was.'
An old friend, a best friend, a first love and the dreamer Neil Cronk who connects them all...
Four schoolfriends are on the verge of adulthood and the next 12 hours will change the course of their lives... Friendships will be broken, virginity lost, love unleashed and secrets buried.
A decade later, one is dead, one is famous, two are getting married, and the truth is about to erupt.
Wildly funny, brutal, tender and true, How It Feels is a coming-of-age story set in Sydney's Sutherland Shire with stopovers in Bathurst and London. Brendan Cowell's electrifying debut novel is a devastating ode to youth, capturing the beauty of growing up by the beach, and the darkness which moves beneath its surface.
Because this is how it feels.
About The Author
Brendan Cowell is an Australian actor, writer and director. He was born in Cronulla, New South Wales, and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre/Media at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst.
Brendan's plays have been produced by prominent theatre companies in Australia and internationally, and he has received the Patrick White Playwrights' Award, the Griffin Award and the Philip Parsons Young Playwright's Award. Brendan played the popular character Tom in Love My Way and wrote many episodes of the critically acclaimed television drama series which won the AFI Award for Best Television Drama Series for each of its three seasons (2005-2007). He has played the lead role in feature films, including the 2007 crime drama Noise, for which he was awarded a Film Critics Circle Award and nominated for an AFI Award, World War I drama Beneath Hill 60 and rom-com I Love You Too. Brendan played Hamlet in a 2009 Bell Shakespeare production.
Brendan lives in Newtown, Sydney, and is a committed supporter of the Cronulla Sharks rugby league team.
You have to hope that there isn't too much of a self portrait in Brendan Cowell's debut novel How it Feels. A quick check on the ubiquitous Wikipedia and it feels crushingly like Neil, the first person narrator in this story of suburban darkness that sucks out your soul. If Neil's story is based on Cowell's own, you have to wonder how he survived it.
Cowell is of course the much beloved actor, screenwriter and director.
How it Feels starts with Neil, his two mates Stuart and Gordon, and his girlfriend Courtney, celebrating the end of school and contemplating their new adult lives. A decade later, one is dead, one is famous, two are getting married and the truth is about to erupt.
How it Feels is not a comfortable read. In fact, I don't think I have had such a visceral reaction to a book since reading Christos Tsoilkas' Dead Europe. Having said that, I picked up the proof copy one afternoon and didn't put it down until I had got to the very last page.
Tsoilkas himself heaps praise on Cowell's novel:
How it Feels is a lacerating, blackly comic novel about the suburban masculine psyche, but it also extends a warmth and understanding to contemporary society that confronted my prejudices and force me to look at the world anew. Cowell's voice is truthful, without any condescension. A smashing novel - urgent, challenging and humane.
For my part, I would describe it as a blowtorch to the belly of the suburban dream. It is an unflinching in its dissection of the ties that bind, and the forces that blow everything apart. Cowell clearly has the voice of the contemporary Australian male, and it is a voice that is howling into the wind.
Published: 27th October 2010
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.4 x 2.8
Weight (kg): 0.506