Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Holding the Man” as Want to Read:
Holding the Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Holding the Man

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,817 Ratings  ·  300 Reviews
From the land of Down Under comes this true story about a male high school drama student who falls in love with the captain of the football team. Winner of the United Nations Human Rights Award for Nonfiction, HOLDING THE MAN has been adapted into a play opening in America in September 2007. The playwright who adapted the book for stage refers to this a a memoir of strikin ...more
Published (first published June 5th 1995)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Holding the Man, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Ilse Cooten You can buy the book at Australian online bookshops. It takes some time before you receive the book (3 weeks for shipping to Europe).
However I think…more
You can buy the book at Australian online bookshops. It takes some time before you receive the book (3 weeks for shipping to Europe).
However I think this book is a must have.... (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Maria (Big City Bookworm)

"As I walked him to the station John said, 'I wish we could hold hands properly.' The weight of what he said sank in. 'Maybe one day, when things change.'

Holding The Man is a memoir written by Timothy Conigrave about growing up and living as a gay man in the 1970s and 1980s in Australia. Tim realizes he is gay at a young age and the novel begins with his self discovery and experimentation with a few different boys, until he meets John Caleo. John is the captain of the high school football team a
Sean Kennedy
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting, affecting, and poignant read. I have to admit, though, I came away with a sense that Tim is a bit of an unreliable narrator. Although he is quick to point out his own faults, and he does some truly selfish, awful things, I also wonder if in his grief he painted a wholly romantic and idealised portrait of his partner John.

I knew little about this book before I started reading it, so the second half came as a bit of a shock. Being part of the generation that was young and scared sh
Clare McConnon
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is it possible to grieve for someone you never met, someone whose existence you were not even aware of and whose death many years ago passed you by? Since I finished Holding The Man by Timothy Conigrave yesterday, thoughts of Tim and John have filled my head, thoughts of their love for each other and thoughts of their short lives. The wart-and-all description of their relationship has brought me closer to starting to understand the devastating consequences of living with AIDS, the physical and p ...more
4 Stars

This was a touching true story about love, loss, betrayal and forgiveness.

Autobiographical in nature, Tim Conigrave chronicles the highs and lows of his life experiences over a 20 year period.

Born and raised in Melbourne (like the best of us *wink*), Tim realised at a very early age that he identified as gay. Growing up in a conservative Catholic family in the 70’s, and attending an exclusive all-boys school as a closest gay kid, was no easy feat.

The main focus of this story is the rela
Stef Rozitis
I am glad I read this book- it is political and ought to be read. It starts of somewhat piecemeal and every time you start to get into what you think is "the story" it is a disjointed fragment leading nowhere, simply I guess building up the picture that Tim really is gay, and also that all around him are temptations, that a lot of males who are "not gay" like to experiment with gay sex. Slowly, over the chapters some of the fragments start to run together or reference each other and it turns int ...more
Daniel Taylor
The best description I've heard of this book is how Peter Blazey described it when it was released: it's so popular because it's gay Mills & Boon.

It's a memoir that reads like fiction, telling the love story of Tim Conigrave and John Caleo who meet in high school and remain lovers for life. It's also a story of love in the time of AIDS - a time not past, even though people are living longer with the new treatments available.

Apart from the powerful story, what makes this book work is the play
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
i had a lot of problems with this book:

(1) horrible writing

conigrave is constantly breaking the 'show, don't tell' rule - to take an immodest example, i don't think i could count on one hand the number of times a character says something to the effect of "you [tim conigrave] and john are the nicest people i know". UGH.

conigrave also has this really distracting writing tic where in spite of the first person narrative, he will throw an italicised thought in with no apparent logic behind why it was
lauren ♡ (wonderless reviews)
I think I've been crying for an hour straight. There's no way I can give any kind of insight right now because I'm a mess. I'll try and have some coherent thoughts up soon.

A photo of Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo.

Conigrave and Caleo were diagnosed with HIV in 1985. They remained relatively healthy until 1990. In 1991, Caleo was diagnosed with cancer. Conigrave nursed Caleo, despite fighting his own illness. Caleo died on Australia Day (26 January) 1992. Conigrave died on 18 October 1994.
I feel bad for abandoning this, but I don't like the writing style and the story is just not grabbing me. Maybe another time I'll revisit this. For now, it's going back to the library.

No rating, as I read just 50 pages.
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

It has been awhile between books, and especially since I've had a book I couldn't put down. Had work not got in the way this would have been a one sitting read.

This book centres around Tim, a young boy who falls for the captain of the footy team at his exclusive private boys school. We see Tim navigate adolescence, experience what life has to offer (and then some) and see him through some very tough experiences. (view spoiler)
Leo Lopes
I. am. destroyed.

This is one of these can't put it down kind of books. I read it almost in one sitting, and seriously, what a marvelous and incredible piece of reality. As one may have guessed from the summary for this, it tells the tale of Tim and John (through Tim's eyes) growing up as gay boys in catholic school, dealing with the AIDS surge in the 80's and its consequences. Saddest part is that this is a memoir, based on true facts. Breaks my heart in tiny little pieces.

I'm a sucker for any s
Bo Bickmore
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This book made me laugh and cry, it made me feel at home and it also broke my heart.

Conigrave's ability to move you through his adolescence and into his manhood is astounding and you feel as though you are right there beside him. You can feel both his love and his pain and I am yet to read a book that is as honest as this one. This book does not glamourise or hide the thoughts we keep to ourselves and it was so refreshing to have insight into the deepest and darkest thoughts of another human be
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trade Paperback - Penguin Classics. Non-fiction - LGBTQ. Found browsing best queer fiction lists and because of a film of the same name released in 2016.
"We were two suns, exchanging atmospheres, drawn into each other, spiraling into one another."

I loved this book. I loved it so much. I had some issues with it, of course, but they all are blown away by that epilogue.

The ending had me in tears, right from chapter eleven to the end. I had problems swallowing but IT. WAS. WORTH IT.

The book has lots of topics that even nowadays keep happening as is homophobia and AIDS. It was refreshing reading about it, like I needed it without knowing.

The worst
Book Faerie
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tragic and heartbreaking. Two beautiful boys fall in love and, through the hardships of life, share a love and 15 year relationship cluttered with sweet and tender moments, heartbreak, separation and ultimately the tragedy of AIDS and death. Still compelling and devastating even all these years after both men have lost their battles. Real life can be so unfair and cruel. I'm really not sure how to put into words the impact this story has had on my heart. How something so innocent and tender stan ...more
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How did I miss this one for so long?

For those of us who came of age in the 70s and came out in the 80s and spent much of the 90s burying our friends and lovers, it's an autobiographical story that will feel like our own. There but for the grace of protease inhibitors go I. So it moved me because it told the story I lived. It's not an easy story, nor is it an easy book but many of issues that Timothy Conigrave wrote about were those we wrestled with but couldn't quite express as eloquently.

It do
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've wanted to read this book ever since I saw the play a couple of years ago. Its such a moving story and I would recommend it to anyone.

As a gay man myself there are obviously parts to this book that I myself can relate to, but in general I believe people of any gender, sexuality or walk of life would appreciate this book. Its a book about growing up, love, friendship, life and loss - which are things that we all experience during our lives.

This book has reaffirmed for me how precious life is,
Mattie B
I think this book was alright. It was a very nice story and an entertaining read, but I couldn't get over how much I disliked Tim. I give him credit for writing himself as I'm sure he was, and had I been in that situation I would have been different, but overall I thought he was just sort of a bad person. I also went into this book with very high expectations because I had read some very good reviews, and perhaps as a result I was let down. I'm also remarkably unemotional, so going into it expec ...more
George Lester
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-june-2017
I don't know what made me pick up this audiobook. Maybe it was adding the film to my "To Watch" list on Netflix, maybe it was just the appeal of a gay memoir. I don't know what it was but I am so incredibly glad that I did. Tim's story is not an easy one to listen to. Though it is touching and funny throughout it is also quite overwhelmingly sad in the latter third. Even though the brightness and wittiness of Tim's voice never fades away, the sadness of it seeps through and really got into my so ...more
So awhile back my friend David was in town. As we always do, we hung out on my couch eating Chinese take out, drinking wine, playing zombie video games, and watching a GLBT movie. The movie HOLDING THE MAN had literally come out at my library that day, and after it hadn't moved on the wall I checked it out, thinking this was great luck! Look at how happy the two men on the cover are! It's said to be super romantic! I showed it to him and he said 'This isn't going to be a sad movie, is it?', and ...more
Andrew Chidzey
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an exceptionally powerful book to read - and confronting in many ways. As you would expect if you read the blurb, this memoir journeys through some of the biggest challenges humankind must overcome (and sometimes fail to overcome): love, death, pain, denial, happiness and trust. Ultimately to review this book is to do it an injustice - it needs to be read. It needs to be read so that people understand the pain and stigma of AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s - the impact it had on those suffer ...more
Sam Still Reading
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After the boring repetitiveness of Under the Tuscan Sun, I’ve made it a mission to read a little bit of the book I plan to read on my commute so I’m not stuck reading something dreadful. So, last night I started reading Holding the Man. I finished it this afternoon.

I bought Holding the Man as one of the Popular Penguins series. I thought it was about AFL (Australian Rules football), given the title. I suppose you could say that it is, a little- Tim falls in love with the captain of the footy tea
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay, non-fiction
This is quite possibly the best non-fiction book I have ever read (note: I do not much like non-fiction, so there you have it). Conigrave seems to have complete memories of so many things from his past, down to very slangy Australian conversations and moments of his beautiful relationship with John, the football captain (and thus the title, which is some sort of soccer thing plus has multiple layers of meaning as you go further into the story). I felt the ending was devastating, even though I kn ...more
Stephen Boccaletti
I loved this book! It took me so long to finish this book because it was so emotional and honest I had to stop. And I think partially because the book I read before this was so sad it was hard to read another emotional book.

The honesty and love Tim put in this book was amazing. It's hard to read about how difficult it was to be gay only 30 years ago. It's event harder to think that this kind of discrimination exists.

It will remain one of my favourite books for years to come I'm sure. I hope tha
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected that Holding the Man would break my heart. I watched the trailer for the movie based on it, and it tugged at my heartstrings. And now that I finished the book . . . I don't know what to do with myself.

When I watch the movie, I know I will actually ball my eyes out. I don't cry watching movies or reading books — I simply feel the intense sadness. Until I watch the movie, I have to stock up with plenty of tissue boxes.

(I will write a proper review!!!)
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, without a doubt, the most heartbreaking gay story I've ever read. It's not a novel, but based on true life, when Tim and his partner go through their early 20's together, only to separate, before reuniting one more. That is the ultra short version of what happens, but ALL gay men should read this book.......regardless!
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This reminded me of why and how I have become who I am and who I will continue to be. It broke my heart and allowed me to grieve and celebrate those who fought so hard. There are so many people I would recommend this book to that I recommend it to everyone.
I love this book, and re-reading it I know why it is so special - it is so touching, funny, moving and heart felt. I just love it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Wrong blurb 2 102 Sep 04, 2013 07:41PM  
  • Loaded
  • Ghost Wife: A Memoir of Love and Defiance
  • Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East
  • The Monkey's Mask
  • Gay Life & Culture: A World History
  • Look Who's Morphing
  • The Boys on the Rock
  • Reckoning: A Memoir
  • Homosexuality & Civilization
  • Out In The Army: My Life As A Gay Soldier
  • Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking
  • Kinglake-350
  • The Carnivorous Lamb
  • Love in a Dark Time: and Other Explorations of Gay Lives and Literature
  • Bad Behaviour
  • The Paper House
  • The White Earth
  • City Boy: My Life in New York in the 1960s and 70s
Tim Conigrave (19 November 1959 – 18 October 1994) was an Australian actor, writer, and activist.

Conigrave was born in Melbourne, and after attending the Jesuit Xavier College and Monash University, where he appeared in Bertolt Brecht's A Man's a Man and Ariane Mnouchkine's 1789. Following graduation he worked with the St. Martin's Youth Arts Centre. Under the direction of Helmut Bakaitis, Alison
More about Timothy Conigrave

Nonfiction Deals

  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
    $15.99 $3.99
  • The Monster of Florence
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
    $9.99 $1.99
  • April 1865 (P.S.)
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Jesus Is ______: Find a New Way to Be Human
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Lab 257
    $8.74 $1.99
  • How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Girl in the Woods: A Memoir
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Last Lecture
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
    $12.74 $1.99
  • Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm A Size 6
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Dog Years
    $13.74 $1.99
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
    $12.99 $2.99
  • An Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
    $27.99 $2.99
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Sex Object
    $9.74 $2.99
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Restless: Because You Were Made for More
    $7.49 $1.99
  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
    $16.99 $2.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Pukka: The Pup After Merle
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Arctic Dreams
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors
    $19.99 $1.99
  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Buddhist Boot Camp
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flour: A Baker's Collection of Spectacular Recipes
    $21.99 $3.99
  • The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Moving Beyond Words: Essays on Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles: Breaking the Boundaries of Gender
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Do the Work
    $4.99 $1.49
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Suck at Girls
    $10.74 $1.99
  • The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
    $14.99 $2.99
  • A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The World's Last Night: And Other Essays
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Life
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society
    $13.24 $2.99
  • Grace, Not Perfection (with Bonus Content): Celebrating Simplicity, Embracing Joy
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. And Robert F. Kennedy
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Why We Run: A Natural History
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
    $12.99 $2.99
“You are a hole in my life, a black hole. Anything I place there cannot be returned. I miss you terribly. Ci vedremo lassu, angelo.” 13 likes
“I guess the hardest thing is having so much love for you and it somehow not being returned. I develop crushes all the time, but that is just misdirected need for you. You are a hole in my life, a black hole. Anything I place there cannot be returned.” 5 likes
More quotes…