Book review: Graeme Aitken – The Indignities

This is a serialized novel about a gay man in Sydney not dealing well with hitting thirty. The novel is structured so that you can read each of the three parts as an individual story, with its own closure rather than a cliffhanger.

Stephen Spear is an actor currently out of work, but having done well enough out of a stint on a soap opera to have bought a house in a good suburb, live off his savings, and avoid his thirtieth birthday with a round the world holiday with his boyfriend. Stephen’s an antihero –he’s self-absorbed, selfish, and oblivious to other people’s reactions to his behaviour. One of the joys of this book is the way Aitken’s first person narration shows the reader what’s going on around Stephen, while Stephen himself remains utterly unaware. He does eventually learn to become a better person. It just takes life hitting him over the head many times to get there.

I’ve reviewed each book separately.

Graeme Aitken – The Indignities: Time to Upsize

The first episode shows the slow disintegration of his three-year relationship with his boyfriend and how he copes, or fails to cope, when he finally realises what’s happening.

It’s very funny, and sad, and for all that Stephen’s behaviour has been appalling, he’s not a malicious man. When he finally turns to revenge, he chooses a method that will cause a great deal of annoyance but no real harm. He finishes as an unlikable but sympathetic character, and I immediately bought the second part to find out how he moves on with his life.

Often free at Amazon as a hook for the second and third parts, and available from a number of retailers: (includes affiliate links).

Graeme Aitken – The Indignities: Private party

Middle segment of the novel “The Indignities”, which can be read as a novelette in its own right. Stephen’s trying to move on with his life, even though he still misses his ex terribly. But hooking up for the night as a single man isn’t as easy as when he was going behind his boyfriend’s back, or going out with him to pick up a third for the night.

And the scene has changed since he was last single. It’s moved online, and he hasn’t — in part because as an actor he’s worried about the potential effect on his career. He takes his first careful steps into the brave new world — and finds himself the unwitting and not entirely happy host of an impromptu sex party.

Again, a wryly funny look at the Sydney gay scene through the eyes of a self-absorbed but well-meaning man who’s not coping well with turning thirty. This section’s a lot smuttier than the first, but not pure stroke fiction.

Note that it’s a lot shorter than you’d think from the page count. There is a lot of end matter devoted to advertising other books from the author.

Available from various retailers at (includes affiliate links).

Graeme Aitken – The Indignities: Me, Myself, and Someone Else

Third and final part of the serialised novel “The Indignities”. Our antihero is still missing his ex, but making a serious effort to put his life back together. Some of that is realising that it’s a long time since he’s had a job, and he needs not just the money, but an outlet for his creativity. Stephen being Stephen, he manages to do this brilliantly while creating the occasional social disaster for himself. By the end of the novel he’s accepted that he’s getting older, and does some growing up.

An occasionally sad, frequently funny novel that is set in Sydney’s gay subculture of the 2000s, but is relevant to anyone who’s had to deal with turning thirty.

Available from various retailers: (includes affiliate links).

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