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The Confessions Of Max Tivoli

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  5,209 ratings  ·  708 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 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
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
Mitch Albom
This was the real Benjamin Button story, in my view. A beautifully crafted account of a baby born old who gets younger as he ages.
Althea Ann
Recommended to me by a friend, this is a good book - but not one that really suited my mood this week. It's a melancholy musing on the futility of love.

The narrator, Max Tivoli, was born appearing to be a wizened old man of 70 - and for his entire life, ages backwards, gaining perspective and experience as physically, he becomes younger.

At 17 (when he appears to be an elderly gentleman), he meets the love of his life, Alice. However, she falls in love with Max's best friend, the young and handso
...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
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
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
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
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
Megan
Apr 21, 2009 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Megan by: Claire Whitmore
Shelves: fiction
"We are each the love of someone's life." Greer always has a great opening line. Wonderful, wonderful novel. The idea of aging backwards now makes us think of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", which then makes us think of S. Scott Fitzgerald. But published in 2004, "The Confessions of Max Tivoli" stands completly on its own merit. The whole idea of this book is so imaginative, regardless of where Greer's inspiration came from (a Bob Dylan song actually), he exectuted it beautifully. Greer's ...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
Julian Paolo Fabros
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 :-)
Devie
My one luxury was the purchase of that smile, that quick laugh.



Max Tivoli was born with a physical curse. He grows older mentally, but his body appears to grow backwards. Somewhat like the movie "The Curse of Benjamin Button" who was portrayed by Brad Pitt. When I was reading the book, I was looking at some comparison with the latter and the only comparison I have was the physical curse that made them what they are.


This book is enchanting and exquisitely written.

When women read a book, we were
...more
Hilary G
EX-BOOKWORM GROUP REVIEW

The love triangle constructed by Andrew Sean Greer in this novel is certainly a unique one, the constituent lovers being a man living backwards, a homosexual and a women’s libber. What all these people had in common was, I suppose, being out of time. Hughie was born too soon to be able to freely express the way he felt, Alice seemed (oddly) old-fashioned but mostly ahead of her time and Max, except for a brief period, was never the right age. There is a marvellously apt q
...more
Alistair
Imagine being born with the physical appearance of an old man but having the mind of a baby. As you age normally in your mind, the younger your appearance becomes. Such is the bizarre circumstance of Max's birth and the premise of this intriguing, moving and romantic novel. As Max learns to accept his condition he develops a deep understanding of what is really important in life. Toward the end of this life, Max decides to write his story for his son and this is the book we are reading. The thre ...more
Kate
The basic story line of the book demands a giant dollop of suspension-of-disbelief, no matter how many times you've encountered it in various works of scifi or fantasy. I plunged into Max's confessions with the thought that I might wind up spluttering to a stop before I reached the conclusion.

And then the plot was all about weaving one's life around the condition of aging backwards, and not a little about trying to weave other people's lives around your condition. This usually seemed to call fo
...more
Rita Galchus
This heartbreaking account of love is why I love to read. Andrew Sean Greer does a great job with this story line and moves it along. Love and tenderness is everywhere and it is twisted and horrible. I love this writer and the twists he creates. I love that even though I have read way too much in my life, I don't see where he is going until it hits me in the face. Great writer. Great book. My only regret is that once again work and life get in the way.
Deb
I liked this book. The concept was interesting (even if not truly original) and was a smooth read. I noticed some reviewers expressed not thinking Max was likeable at all. But I think the author wrote him to be more self-centered; in fact, he stated it explicitly in the story. Starting out looking older wouldn't create a wiser, more empathetic person if they're still aging in a typical chronological order psychologically and emotionally. Knowing you'll be expected to know and do less as you age ...more
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24892
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...
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells The Story of a Marriage The Path of Minor Planets How it Was for Me the many lives of greta wells

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“We are each the love of someone's life.” 47 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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