The Rider on the Bridge tells a 20-year-old story of a young narrator’s escape to Melbourne in an attempt to flee his unstable mother. After encountering the charming Julia, he is invited to stay with her friends in a derelict two-storey art deco squat hidden behind an overgrown wilderness. The story follows the narrator’s recollections of the adventures shared with his manor companions, as well as a memory recounted by his mother of a boy precariously riding his bicycle on a bridge high above a busy motorway.
In late Autumn, Kitten, so named by a girl he met long ago, sits and remembers an aching
adolescence; not of lost love and romance, but of wild and unbound joys and sorrows. And of those enduring friendships that linger at the periphery, that come with the hope that one day everything will return to what it once was.
The Rider on the Bridge tells of an episode that occurred 20 years previously in the life of the narrator when he was fifteen: He escapes from an unstable mother and flees into Melbourne where he encounters the charming Julia. She names him 'Kitten' and invites him to stay with her friends in their Balaclava squat that they refer to as The Manor. It is a derelict two-storey art deco building hidden behind a wilderness of overgrown trees and bushes. Here, Kitten meets Brad, erstwhile leader of the group, Sophie, Julia's associate, and Jake, a come-and-go wanderer with a penchant for unplanned adventure. Together the group decides to save money and move to Byron Bay.
The title of the book comes from a recollection Kitten has early in the novel. His mother tells him of how she saw, on rail bridge nearby, a boy ride his bicycle along the edge of the bridge, high above the two-laned road below. The boy's companions gathered money from people who stopped to watch and to bet that he would fall. This image of a precarious balancing act that hovers between thrill and disaster, the obscene fascination of those gathered to watch, stays with Kitten.
This is a story that takes place, predominately, in late Autumn and Winter. Their tones inform Kitten's memory of the boy on the bridge and his recollection of the experience he shared with his Manor companions.