The Confessions Of Max Tivoli
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The Confessions Of Max Tivoli

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  4,691 ratings  ·  668 reviews
Max Tivoli is writing the story of his life. He is nearly seventy years old, but he looks as if he is only seven - for Max is ageing backwards. The tragedy of Max's life was to fall in love at seventeen with Alice, a girl his own age - but to her, Max looks like an unappealingly middle-aged man. However when Max reaches the age of thirty-five, with an appearance to match,...more
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Published April 7th 2005 by Faber and Faber (first published January 1st 2004)
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Laurel
Max Tivoli was born looking like a 70 year old man, with white hair, wrinkled skin and liver spots. Though his mind ages normally, his body grows younger with each passing year.

As I read (or, listened to) this book, I couldn't help but wonder how it compares to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is essentially (from what I understand) the same story. I've yet to read Benjamin Button, but I would assume that Andrew Sean Greer borrowed heavily from Fitzgerald, even if...more
Anca
Pentru ca toata lumea se leaga de The Curious Case of Benjamin Button cand scrie despre cartea asta, refuz sa fac comparatie intre cele doua. La Fitzgerald era mai mult o idee interesanta prezentata rapid, iar personajul nu e nu-stiu-cat de afectat, e oarecare, la Greer e un blestem care e prilejul de transmitere a altor idei. Pana la urma, ce vrea Greer sa spuna, mai departe de "Fiecare dintre noi e dragostea vietii cuiva" (prima propozitie care oricat de siropos ar suna, pana la urma duce la u...more
Penny
An interesting concept -- a man is born old and ages backward -- but in the end, I didn't enjoy the book. I came to really dislike the main character, Max. He has a difficult fate, it's true, but he seemed to me to be so consumed with self-pity that he had a hard time relating to anyone else. And he's so very passive -- uninterested in his job or his world. He even sleeps through the San Francisco earthquake! What's the point of placing your novel during the 1906 earthquake if your protagonist s...more
Chris
I read this book years ago and it has remained one of my favorites. I'm still recommending it to people. Much like One Hundred Years of Solitude, it's a moving, sad, and funny story about love. It's hard to imagine (although impossible) what it would be like to age backwards. The levels and types of love displayed in this book are amazing. You won't be able to put it down.
Lillian
The premise of this book was tantalizing: a man who ages in reverse tries to find and win his one true love time after time. I was hoping it would be akin to The Time Traveler's Wife, whose characters I quickly came to love. The Confessions of Max Tivoli, though, is a completely different beast. For one, I had no idea that it would be narrated in the style of a Victorian novel, complete with frequent exhortations to the "Dear Reader." The prose was lovely, but initially, I found the style a bit...more
Sara
May 22, 2008 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sophisticated, educated readers who are not too jaded to enjoy a tall tale or a meaningful fantasy
This is one of the better books I've read in quite awhile. Part of this is because I haven't been reading much this year, but also this is a beautifully worded book, a delicious slow read with an imaginative premise and poetry and philosophy on nearly every page. It has, however, two unforgivable flaws.

The most glaring unforgivable flaw is the ending, which is frankly unworthy of the rest of the book, in the words of my true love "a cop-out all around." I won't discuss that here (but might on my...more
Carolyn
Andrew Sean Greer's novel took a bit of time to weave its spell for me, but once the spell was cast, I was thoroughly enchanted. Greer conjures up a gorgeous, bustling turn-of-the-20th-century San Francisco, my beloved City, with details so precise and poignant that they will stay with you long after you are done reading. And Max Tivoli, born old and growing ever younger, faces terrible obstacles in love, but then, so do we all. "Be what they think you are," Max Tivoli's parents implore him at t...more
Kelly
I loved the movie Benjamin Button. I loved Brad Pitt playing Benjamin Button. Not even the idea of visualizing Brad Pitt reading me this book while soaking up some sun with a margarita in hand would make this book any better.

I cannot remember the last time I disliked a character so much all I wanted to do was punch his whole face in. Whiny, selfish and immature, Max Tivoli kind of makes me hate Brad Pitt, and all the man did was play the main character in the adaptation of this book.

And while I...more
Ryan
***1/2

You might be surprised that this book preceded the move "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", which was made after I read it (in 2008), and that the two works are unconnected. Except, of course, for the central plot idea, which Greer might have also borrowed from F. Scott Fitzgerald: a child is born in an old man's body and from there ages backwards.

Despite the sci-fi premise, the story is lyrical and character-focused. Greer, admirably, doesn't give Max any easy outs from his situation o...more
Laura Bang
This book drew me in from the first sentence ("We are each the love of someone's life.") and my interest never wavered for the entire story. Max is cursed with a rare disease: his body ages in reverse, so that as a newborn, he appears to be a tiny 70-year-old man, and as he grows older in mind and years his body grows younger in physical appearance. He is writing his "confessions" in his late-fifties, with the physical appearance of a 12-year-old boy. While this may sound like a weird premise fo...more
J
It is a delicate task to write a book in which the main character repeatedly ruins the life of and frightens almost to death another major character and to make that protagonist sympathetic. You understand why he does what he does, you see how he fools himself into believing the consequences of his actions will not be bad as they truly unfold to be, and you watch with great empathy for both him and his victim. It is a balancing act to show such obsessive love as Andrew Sean Greer does in The Con...more
Claire Monahan
May 24, 2008 Claire Monahan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like romances
It's now been twenty-one hours since I finished this book, and my afterthoughts have definitely fluctuated since then. However, I think three stars is still a reasonable rating for Max Tivoli. As a solid character alone, though, that rating would be too generous.

I think I've come to my own conclusion that I'm much harsher on romance stories than any other genre of books. Rarely have I come upon one that has knocked me off my feet (The English Patient in particular), but I can't imagine that sto...more
Brynn Sugarman
I found this book to be completely magical! When "Benjamin Button" came out, I kept thinking that they must have based it on Greer's book, since both involve a man who ages backwards but it seems that there was simultaneous inspiration, since Greer denies having ever read Fitzgerald's story. Such a brilliant idea!

Greer's writing is beautiful: lyrical, poetic and perfect. He does a wonderful job of evoking the missed opportunities of the protagonist: the ironies and tragedy of loving the same wo...more
Cecilia
I launched into this book on the basis that I feel like I don’t read enough local authors. I definitely - in my head - support local artists, local authors, local press, etc., but sometimes it hard to put that into practice. So I did, and I was rewarded for my, you know, doing what I should be doing.

I knew the general plot going in, but the details of it still kind of hit you. However, once you get used to the conceit - the story of a man who is living life in reverse, born as an old man and gro...more
Carolee Wheeler
I'd put this in the "Time-Traveler's Wife" genre of literature--sort of mind-bending, as long as you don't think too much about it. It's airplane reading, disposable literature you can leave in the seat back pocket when you're finished and not give it another thought. Some might argue that books like that are the reason TV was created, but it's nice to be able to read something, now and then, that just flows over you and leaves no confusing aftertaste.

That said, the period details in the book we...more
Judith
I can't decide if I would have like this more or less if I had not seen "Benjamin Buttons". I am not sure why the movie purports to be based on a short story by Gatsby because this book seems too much like the movie to be coincidence. Regardless, it is more interesting in some ways because the love story is so much more complicated and the setting is San Francisco, rather than the whole world. The psychological aspects of aging backwards are explored in much greater detail through this narrative...more
Bobby
Max Tivoli is born in 1870's San Francisco with the body of an old man which gets younger and younger as time goes on. With this simple and fantastical premise, Andrew Sean Greer manages to construct a very original and rather believable--all things considering--love story (one with gothic overtones). Most of the story is told sixty or so years later, i.e., when Max has the body of a young boy but the life experience and mind of an "old man," as he writes in his journal. Though the writing felt...more
Cassi
While the premise itself was sometimes frustrating, I was impressed that the author could get across very realistic frustrations of the main character.

I thought the book started off really bad and got much better. By the middle of the book, I enjoyed it.

I do think you need a bit of an idea of the story of the book before you read it- it makes it much more enjoyable.

Oh! And I have now come up with a new addition to "most annoying things about a book"
1. When the female character is so beautiful th...more
Michelleandderek Nakagawa
Reminiscent of the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but somehow different, this novel was endearing and heartwarming. Max is completely likeable, as is his one true love. And his good friend Hughie is everything one should be.
Though the ending was inevitable, I'm not exactly happy with it and if you read it, you might feel the same.
A fantastic read :)
liz
Okay, so it's the life story of a man who's born old, but baby-tiny, and as he gets bigger and older, he looks younger and younger. You're confusing it with that movie, aren't you? Well, I've seen the movie (and would love to discuss the tugboat-submarine scene with anyone who knows a lot about boats, BTW), and they are actually really different. "Max Tivoli" is more complicated, and his life takes very different turns (although there are some similarities in terms of the story arc about "the gi...more
Anni
A bit of a slow start, but eventually grows nicely into its own. Initially, the omnipresent echoes of "Lolita" and "Benjamin Button" were odd and discomfiting, until the realization that Greer isn't inventing anything new nor is he trying to - instead, he's crafting a thoughtful meditation on love, longing and loss, age-old themes played out in age-old ways, in a book at times verging on the poetic but never quite getting there. There's the sense of an unfulfilled ambition, of reaching, an almos...more
Julian Paolo
This novel made my eyes teary. it reminded me of the movie Benjamin Button. The dictation of the story from the start til the end was so erudite. Coming from the perspective of an individual who quite hates love stories, I will say that this novel is a must read :-)
Jessika Baskett
While I found the plot interesting, I was never able to warm up to any of the characters. Max described his feelings for Alice as love but, in my opinion, he was unhealthily obsessed with her. As for Alice, I never quite understood what made her tick, or what her appeal was for Max.
I finished the book not because I was emotionally invested in Max's story but because I was simply curious as to how the author would end the story.
Barbara Sheppard
I really liked this book and if I could give this book more than 5 stars I would.
It was beautifully sad. Towards the end of the book I was tearing up and when I finally finished the book I was sobbing. I do not really cry that much so I know that was a great book, at least for me. I did have a little trouble getting started and I have to admit that the premise of this book -- that of a man aging in reverse -- seemed almost too surreal for me. I could not quite follow what was going on at the sta...more
Kim
I think I was hoping this book would be a little more epic in scale, but it's a good book for what it is. I found it really interesting that it's set (for the most part) in San Francisco around 1900, so you get scenes set in Golden Gate Park, Woodward Gardens, etc.
Andrew
Jul 24, 2010 Andrew rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrew by: Michele Daniels
The plot of this novel is only mildly interesting, except for its ending. But the language throughout it is quite beautiful, and the writing so simply observant of life, that Greer's narration more than makes up for the lack of excitement. It was great.
Susan Melgren
Oh, Max. You pitiable, wretched, selfish creature. What am I to think of you?

“The Confessions of Max Tivoli” is the story of (you guessed it) Max Tivoli, a man born with a rare condition: he ages backwards. His childhood is spent in the body of an old man, hidden away from a world that can neither understand nor accept him; but as he ages mentally, Max’s body moves slowly backwards, retrogressing to manhood then eventually boyhood. Set against the backdrop of a historic San Francisco, Max narrat...more
Csmigocki
Ack. Too much like Benjamin Buttons for me to get into. Reverse aging is just not my bag. Sadly, I left mid-way (perfect timing when you think of it, really).
Dean Ismail
I enjoyed this book much better than I thought I would when I started reading it. The main character is of course Max Tivoli of the title. Around him are two others, Hughie and Alice.
Spanning fifty years or so, you will see the progress or otherwise of these characters.
The book's first sentence, "we are each the love of someone's life" is the most apt opening for a book I can remember.
Of course, many would compare this book to Fitzgerald's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" due to Tivoli's...more
Krys Gut
As Max ages, he looks younger and he runs into Alice again as a woman. She doesn’t recognize him, but he eventually wins her over and they marry. Sadly his love is unrequited as it is clear that he is not the love of Alice’s life. He keeps his secret from her, and as she ages, his youth draws nearer.

He still retains his friendship with his old friend, and he is tormented on how his last years will play out…

Not an enjoyable read. The characters were lack luster and undeveloped, and the story lin...more
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Andrew Sean Greer (born 1970) is an American novelist and short story writer.

He is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage, which The New York Times has called an “inspired, lyrical novel,” and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named one of the best books of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and received a California Book Award.

The child of two scientists, Greer studied writing...more
More about Andrew Sean Greer...
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“We are each the love of someone's life.” 46 likes
“People always say the greatest love story in the world is Romeo and Juliet. I don't know. At fourteen, at seventeen, I remember, it takes over your whole life." Alice was worked up now, her face flushed and alive, her hands cutting through the night-blooming air. "You think about nobody, nothing else, you don't eat or sleep, you just think about this . . . it's overwhelming. I know, I remember. But is it love? Like how you have cheap brandy when you're young and you think it's marvelous, just so elegant, and you don't know, you don't know anything . . . because, you've never tasted anything better. You're fourteen."

It was no time for lying. "I think it's love"

You do?"

I think maybe it's the only true love."

She was about to say something, and stopped herself. I'd surprised her, I suppose. "How sad if you're right," she said, closing her eyes for a moment. "Because we never end up with them. How sad and stupid if that's how it works.”
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