A novel by Adam Ouston
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. Now this quirk of history becomes fodder for the obsessions of one Bernard Cripp, the world-weary scion of an ailing family circus, as he tries to unearth every detail of Houdini’s flight in order to re-enact it, right down to the crash-landing. 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 an 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.
Adam Ouston is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, and the recipient of the 2014 Erica Bell Literary Award as well as the manuscript prize at the Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Awards in 2017. He holds a PhD and has worked as a copywriter, editor and bookseller. As a musician he performs as Costume. He lives in Hobart, Tasmania.
Read excerpts from Waypoints:
Listen to Adam Ouston interviewed on the Beyond the Zero podcast.
Praise for Waypoints
Artful, terrific, heaps of fun. Adam Ouston is hugely talented.Robbie Arnott
author of The Rain Heron
An exciting, adventurous debut novel. A meditation on time, mortality, technology, the future and the great unknown… it combines the picaresque quality of Peter Carey’s Illywhacker with the inquisitiveness of Aldous Huxley and the rhythms of a twinkly, whimsical Thomas Bernhard. Yet Ouston has his own style, taking circumspect precision, combining it with due fondness for the em dash, and then, like Lil Nas X with a bad case of logorrhea, riding until he can’t no more.Declan Fry
One glorious paragraph of obsession, planes, Houdini and heartache. Waypoints brings to mind the best bits of Joseph Heller while simultaneously being like nothing else you’ve ever read.Emmy Reid
Fullers Books, Hobart