In 1910 the famed escapologist Harry Houdini made an ill-fated attempt to become the first person to fly an aircraft over Australian soil—yet while Houdini is remembered today for his failure, the true record-holder has been forgotten. This quirk of history becomes the focus for the obsessions of Bernard Cripp, world-weary scion of an ailing family circus, who tries to unearth every detail of Houdini’s flight in order to re-enact it. But why is Bernard so single-minded? As his manic testimony unspools, his story takes on a darker tone: he is, in fact, in mourning for a wife and child he has lost to the skies, and paralysed by the uncertainty surrounding their deaths. If his efforts to re-create history cannot bring back his loved ones, can they at least bring him peace as he struggles to live with his loss?
In Waypoints, his outlandish début novel, Adam Ouston embarks on a journey to reclaim a lost sense of awe and wonder from subjects as diverse as Victorian vaudeville and cutting-edge data storage, from the early history of Alzheimer’s disease to the immortality of human consciousness. Blending the solemnity of Sebald with the breathlessness of Bernhard, the result is equal parts rambunctious and ruminative, poignant and hilarious—a wild ride through a storm of grief, ambition, integrity, remembrance, and love.
“Artful, terrific, heaps of fun… Adam Ouston is hugely talented.”
– Robbie Arnott