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The Confessions of Max Tivoli

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Out of the womb in 1871, Max Tivoli looked to all the world like a tiny 70-year-old man. But inside the aged body was an infant. Victim of a rare disease, Max grows physically younger as his mind matures. In Andrew Sean Greer's finely crafted novel, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, Max narrates his life story from the vantage point of his late fifties, though his body is that of a 12-year-old boy. He has known since a young age that he is destined to die at 70, and he wears a golden "1941" as a constant reminder of the year he will finally perish in an infant form. His mother, a Carolina belle concerned over her son's troubling appearance, curses Max with "The Rule": "Be what they think you are." Max fails to keep this Rule only a handful of times in his life, but it is the burden of living by it that wounds him and slowly alienates him from the people he loves.

Over Max's narration of the preceding decades of his life, he offers outsider's snapshots of San Francisco and all of America across the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout, Greer uses the literary device of reverse aging to interrogate the evolution of social conventions, the finitude of a human life, and the decay of memory. Max wants love. But his curse destines him to deception. He loses his wife, Alice, changes his name, and remains hidden from his own son to keep his true identity secret. Only his lifelong friend, Hughie, stands by Max and can see the person inside the anachronistic body. Like the best science fiction and myth, the novel uses its central conceit to reveal human prejudice and explode all assumptions of normalcy to profound effect.

Love is a destructive force in The Confessions of Max Tivoli. But Greer recognizes that in the failure of love is also hope. He artfully captures Max's fragile world with a delicacy that never crosses into sentimentality but also avoids the monumental scale of tragedy. As Max says near the end of the novel, "It is a brave and stupid thing, a beautiful thing to waste ones life for love." A journey with Max, while brave and beautiful, is hardly a waste. --Patrick O'Kelley

351 pages, Hardcover

First published November 25, 2004

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About the author

Andrew Sean Greer

19 books2,591 followers
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 with Robert Coover and Edmund White at Brown University, where he was the commencement speaker at his own graduation, where his unrehearsed remarks, critiquing Brown's admissions policies, caused a semi-riot. After years in New York working as a chauffeur, theater tech, television extra and unsuccessful writer, he moved to Missoula, Montana, where he received his Master of Fine Arts from The University of Montana, from where he soon moved to Seattle and two years later to San Francisco where he now lives. He is currently a fellow at the New York Public Library Cullman Center. He is an identical twin.

While in San Francisco, he began to publish in magazines before releasing a collection of his stories, How It Was for Me. His stories have appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New Yorker and other national publications, and have been anthologized most recently in The Book of Other People, and The PEN/ O. Henry Prize Stories 2009. His first novel, The Path of Minor Planets, was published in 2001.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 891 reviews
Profile Image for Jaidee .
560 reviews1,024 followers
December 12, 2021
3.5 "very enjoyable but short of the bullseye" stars !!!

I loves me a good melodrama especially when there is a touch of the fantastical or magical realism.

There was so much to adore about this book. A man ages psychologically and intellectually consecutively but physically ages backwards. In the meantime he loves the same woman three times at different stages of his life while staying true to his best friend and sometimes romantic rival. Throw in late nineteenth century San Francisco, circuses, disasters, whorehouses, discoveries of the automobile, radio and all sorts of Americana and you have the potential for a masterpiece.

Alas, the author stopped working on this novel too early for my taste and instead we are left with a somewhat incomplete Monet or a symphony with only two movements and only scored for strings and woodwinds with only a few bars begun for the brass !!

I found this book sweeping, beautiful, touching and important.

However I also found it a touch too sweet in some places, a bit sloppy in others and too repetitive in sections.

Overall, however, I am very gratified to have read this novel and the 3.5 star rating does not do the high level of my enjoyment justice.

I look forward to reading more from Mr. Greer !
Profile Image for Roberto.
627 reviews1 follower
November 13, 2017

L'amore arriva sempre al momento sbagliato

Come si fa a non tuffarsi in un romanzo che ha un incipit così?

Siamo tutti il grande amore di qualcuno. Voglio scriverlo, in caso io venga scoperto e non riesca a terminare queste pagine, in caso le mie confessioni vi turbino al punto da gettarle nel fuoco prima che io arrivi a raccontarvi d’amore e di assassinio. E come biasimarvi? Tante cose possono impedire di ascoltare il mio racconto. C’è da spiegare un cadavere. Una donna amata tre volte. Un amico tradito. E un bambino cercato a lungo. Così comincerò dalla fine, dicendovi che siamo tutti il grande amore di qualcuno.

E' la storia della vita di un uomo che nasce giovane ma col corpo di un vecchio, cresce riducendo il divario tra età mentale e età fisica e arriva alla fine dei suoi giorni vecchio ma con il corpo di un neonato.

Questa trama, improbabile e apparentemente senza senso (fantascienza?), è trasformata da Greer in qualcosa di tenero e delicato perché l'attenzione si concentra sulla differenza tra età interiore e età del corpo.

Questa differenza, che è chiaramente accentuata nel romanzo, trasforma l'esistenza del protagonista in una ricerca spasmodica dell'amore, che incontra forse troppo presto e poi in altri due diversi momenti della sua vita ma sempre con l'età "sbagliata". Un grandissimo amore che anche se brucia in una sola direzione riesce a riscaldarci il cuore con tantissima tenerezza.

L'idea di base non è nuova, visto che Fitzgerald aveva già scritto la storia di un uomo che nasce vecchio e che ringiovanisce con il tempo, circa ottant'anni prima ne "Lo strano caso di Benjamin Button". Ma Greer partendo dall'inversione del tempo sviluppa l'idea in modo molto più efficace e intenso rispetto a Fitzgerald, trasformando in il libro in un romanzo raffinato, originale e delicato.

Non c'entra nulla con il libro, ma non ho potuto fare a meno di ridere invece leggendo l'idea del tempo al contrario di Woody Allen:

"Tanto per cominciare si dovrebbe iniziare morendo, e così tricchete tracchete il trauma è bello che superato. Quindi ti svegli in un letto di ospedale e apprezzi il fatto che vai migliorando giorno dopo giorno. Poi ti dimettono perché stai bene e la prima cosa che fai è andare in posta a ritirare la tua pensione e te la godi al meglio. Col passare del tempo le tue forze aumentano, il tuo fisico migliora, le rughe scompaiono. Poi inizi a lavorare e il primo giorno ti regalano un orologio d'oro. Lavori quarant'anni finché non sei così giovane da sfruttare adeguatamente il ritiro dalla vita lavorativa. Quindi vai di festino in festino, bevi, giochi, fai sesso e ti prepari per iniziare a studiare. Poi inizi la scuola, giochi con gli amici, senza alcun tipo di obblighi e responsabilità, finché non sei bebè. Quando sei sufficientemente piccolo, ti infili in un posto che ormai dovresti conoscere molto bene. Gli ultimi nove mesi te li passi flottando tranquillo e sereno, in un posto riscaldato con room service e tanto affetto, senza che nessuno ti rompa i coglioni. E alla fine abbandoni questo mondo in un orgasmo!"
Profile Image for Nood-Lesse.
299 reviews144 followers
January 10, 2019
Siamo tutti il grande amore di qualcuno.
Che ricordi, questo è il miglior incipit che abbia mai letto. La grande rarità è che quel qualcuno sia a nostra volta il grande amore (segreto).
Che ricordi, questo è il miglior romanzo d’amore che abbia letto; l’ho preferito ad Amore senza Fine di Spencer, ad Acqua di mare di Simmons a La moglie dell’uomo che viaggiava nel tempo di Niffenegger (cito non i miei preferiti ma i più gettonati). Lo è se inseriamo Addio alle Armi nella categoria Amore e Guerra.
Il verbo romanzare contiene sia il verbo amare che il sostantivo amore. L’ingrediente romanzesco per eccellenza nelle confessioni di Max Tivoli viene servito in un buffet che comprende alcune preparazioni prelibate ed altre stucchevoli. La trama del libro ricalca quella del film “Il curioso caso di Benjamin Button”, il protagonista nasce con le sembianze di un vecchio e ringiovanisce con il passar degli anni. Non ho letto il racconto di Fitzgerald da cui il film è tratto, ora mi incuriosirebbe e non per stabilire di chi sia l’idea originale, perché sorprendentemente Le confessioni di Max Tivoli è un libro uscito nel 2004. Andrew Sean Greer ha fatto un ottimo lavoro di ricollocazione temporale, ha ambientato la vicenda (principalmente) nell’America degli anni ’30 e a me è parso assai credibile.
Si esce sazi dal buffet, questo è il piatto con alcune delle cose che ho selezionato e sbafato come un gatto, come quel vecchio che leggeva romanzi d’amore sperando di imbattersi in quello che lui non aveva né scritto né vissuto.

Profile Image for Fabian.
935 reviews1,527 followers
October 22, 2020
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" revamped and reworked in a very satisfying if melancholy way!

This earlier book by Greer--whose "Less" becomes more & more memorable as time passes--likens the aging-in-reverse weeper-of-an-affliction with homosexuality. For there are monstrosities in the human pool--slightly MORE human solely because of their scourge and plight.

The confessionary is self-serving (for good reason!) & an intimate deconstruction of the theme which Oscar Wilde explored at the time that this novel takes place: at the switch-over of the centuries.

This is better than the Brad Pitt film--in color, almost a companion piece. Both Button and Tivoli could be side-by-side, not only in the theme of literature, but as clinical studies. Like, why do we cringe at getting closer to death? Artists ponder. This is a work about that fear, but also about love. That the maternal kind and the romantic are interchangeable, though--this may probably be my only aversion to this very emotional novel.
Profile Image for Chris.
37 reviews2 followers
July 29, 2007
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.
Profile Image for Mitch Albom.
Author 90 books107k followers
Read
January 8, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Laurel.
398 reviews170 followers
February 5, 2017
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 only in concept. [Actually, I've since learned that this is not the case; oddly enough, Greer got the idea from a Bob Dylan song].

Anyway, The Confessions of Max Tivoli begins when Max is nearing 60 years old, but looks to be a boy of 10 or 12. Knowing he is in the last years of his life, he decides to write his life story. He does this in part to confess his secrets to the woman he loves, and in part so that his son (who is unaware that Max is his father, since he appears to be a boy of the same age) will someday discover the truth. What follows is a tale of love (sort of), loss and self-reflection.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find Max to be a particularly likable man. Often selfish and full of melancholy over his predicament, he seems to lack any interest in life outside of one single obsession: his love for a girl named Alice.

When Max first meets Alice, she is 14 years old and thinks Max is a man in his 60s, though he is actually only 17 at the time. We are (I think) supposed to feel sorry for Max for what he cannot have, but Max does such a good job at this himself that I found it hard to be as sympathetic as I might otherwise have been.

I also didn't feel that Max's love for Alice was genuine. It seemed more like a destructive, life-long infatuation; a desire for someone simply because that person is out of one's reach. At one point, Max himself says to the reader: "You are thinking this is not love. This sounds like a wretchedly broken heart." Indeed, that is precisely what I was thinking.

For these reasons, I had a hard time getting fully absorbed into the story. I grew so tired of Max's incessant woefulness that I felt myself distancing from him more and more as the story went on.

Despite all this, though, there were some aspects I enjoyed. The book is well-written, with rich prose and a lovely descriptive style.

With my own health struggles, I could definitely relate to the idea of being trapped in a body that doesn't function properly, and all the frustrations that come with that. I think most of us, even when healthy, can relate to the sense that our body rarely matches the age we feel in our mind and soul. I remember when my late grandmother turned 80, she told my mom she didn't feel like she was 80. Time has a way of slipping by more quickly than we want or expect it to, whether it is moving forward, or in Max's case, backwards.

Overall, this was an interesting and well-presented concept, but the characters simply didn't resonate with me as much as I'd hoped. It did make me all the more curious (sorry) to read Benjamin Button, though.

Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews997 followers
January 31, 2015
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 handsome Hughie. Max has an affair with Alice's mother instead, but the two women move away when the elder notices Max's seemingly perverted attentions to her daughter.

Years later, Max rediscovers Alice and, under an assumed identity, marries her. They are happy for a while, but then she leaves him for another man.

Hughie sticks by Max's side, even as he gets younger and younger.
When Max appears to be only 11, he concocts a scheme to infiltrate Alice's life yet again, this time becoming her adopted son.
However, he drags Hughie into this scheme - not considering the emotional ramifications - that Alice has always loved Hughie, and that Hughie, all these years, has actually loved Max.
No one actually ever gets to have and keep what they truly want.

The language of the book is very flowery - some may find it to be a bit much. Max is a rather self-pitying character - not as loathsome as he makes himself out to be, but not that attractive, either.

[Goodreads has done its job for me! I picked up a copy of this on the free shelf at work, and nearly started reading it again... until this review reminded me that I've already read it. So, update: around 7 years later, I didn't find this book too memorable.]
Profile Image for Zuzulivres.
332 reviews93 followers
August 5, 2022
České Odeonky ma väčšinou bavia, no Zpověd Maxe Tivolliho bola pre mňa zatiaľ prekvapením tohto roka. Mala som ju odloženú na kôpke "asi nebudem čítať" a napokon sa zaradila medzi knihy, ktoré otriasli mojím knižným svetom. Kniha Andrewa Seana Greera je napísaná nádherným jazykom, za čo určite môžeme poďakovať skvelému prekladu.

Kniha spracováva rovnaký motív s akým sme sa už stretli v poviedke Podivuhodný příbeh Bejamina Buttona od slávneho Francisa Scotta Fitzeralda (áno, asi všetci poznáme filmové spracovanie /2008/, no táto kniha vyšla o niečo skôr/2004/), no autor sa vyjadril, že ho k písaniu inšpirovala pieseň Boba Dylana My back pages.

Max sa narodí v tele starého muža a vyvíja sa opačne, fyzicky mladne a jeho duch starne. Keď pristúpite na autorovu hru a nebudete príliš špekulovať nad týmto fantaskným prvkom, môže by�� pre vás tento príbeh rovnako strhujúcim čítaním akým bol pre mňa.
V Maxovom živote zohrávajú dôležitú úlohu postavy Huga a Alice, ktoré ho sprevádzajú celým životom. Sledujeme tri milostné vzplanutia odohrávajúce sa v inom čase a na rôznych miestach, ktoré v konečnom dôsledku končia zúfalo. Max Tivoli predstavuje tragický obraz človeka, ktorý je v každom z nás, nemilosrdné plynutie času, ktoré končí pre všetkých nás bez rozdielu a rovnako.
Nechcem a ani nemám chuť viac prezrádzať, o knihách netreba veľa hovoriť a písať, treba ich čítať.

"Každý z nás je něčí životní láska.
To jsem chtěl zaznamenat pro případ, že budu odhalen a nebudu schopen všechno dopsat, pro případ, že vás má zpověď vyvede natolik z míry, že ji hodíte do ohně dřív, než se dozvíte o té velké lásce a vraždě. Neměl bych vám to za zlé. Mezi mým příběhem a posluchačem stojí tolik překážek. Například mrtvola, to bude třeba nejprve objasnit. Žena, třikrát milovaná. Zrazený přítel. A dlouho hledaný chlapec. Proto raději začnu od konce a napíši, že každý z nás je něčí životní láska."
Profile Image for Penny.
121 reviews
September 15, 2007
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 sleeps through it? Max's one great passion is Alice, a woman who is the same age as himself, though she does not know that this elderly man is her peer as a teen, or realize, when she meets him in their 30s, that they had known each other before. I came to like Alice a fair bit, but partly just because she kept having to put up with this mopey guy. The author has some skill as a writer, but not half as much as he thinks -- the prose is quite purple at times. Overall, I can't recommend the book.
Profile Image for Grazia.
366 reviews152 followers
August 19, 2017
"Siamo tutti il grande amore di qualcuno "

"Voglio scriverlo, in caso io venga scoperto e non riesca a terminare queste pagine, in caso le mie confessioni vi turbino al punto da gettarle nel fuoco prima che io arrivi a raccontarvi d'amore e di assassinio. E come biasimarvi? Tante cose possono impedire di ascoltare il mio racconto. C'è da spiegare un cadavere. Una donna amata tre volte. Un amico tradito. E un bambino cercato a lungo. Così comincerò dalla fine, dicendovi che siamo tutti il grande amore di qualcuno."

Comincia dalla fine la storia di Max, comincia dalla fine della vita così come la vita di Max, vissuta all'incontrario. Max, per uno scherzo del destino, nasce vecchio nel 1871 (settantenne) e, se nulla accade, dovrà morire infante.
Chi si accorge del suo destino in primis è la nonna, che gli regala una catenina con su scritto 1941, un memento mori, l'anno della sua morte.

Chi è Max? Max è un "mostro ", come lui stesso si definisce, che con l'aspetto di un sessantenne ama una diciassettenne, non riuscendo che ad apparire che un pedofilo, o che con l'aspetto di dodicenne ama una cinquantenne, non riuscendo per lei che ad essere trasparente o considerabile come un figlio. Un "mostro", accompagnato per tutta la sua vita, dall'inseparabile Hughie, anche lui dilaniato da un impronunciabile segreto. "Siamo tutti il grande amore di qualcuno". E la cosa può farsi tragica, se l'amore non solo non è corrisposto, ma non è fisicamente corrispondibile.

Come non pensare ad altri mostri che letterariamente lo hanno preceduto? Dorian Gray, Frankenstain, ugualmente basati sul tema dell'impossibilità di giudicare in base all'aspetto fisico. Dell'impossibilità di conoscere veramente i tormenti di chi ci sta a fianco.

Green viene tacciato di plagio, per aver rubato l'idea ad una novella di Fitzgerald: "Il curioso caso di Benjamin Button". Pare l'idea a Fitzgerald fosse venuta da un’osservazione di Mark Twain - come sarebbe bello poter vivere da giovani l’intensità delle esperienze e delle emozioni che si sperimentano quando invece si è in là con gli anni. Ecco in realtà nella proposizione di Greer, c'è ben poco di cui cui godere. Si perché la vita di Max si riduce di un terzo, ha una fascia temporale brevissima in cui vivere, l'unica fascia temporale in cui mente e corpo risultano essere sincronizzati.

La novella di Fitzerald non l'ho letta, ma ho trovato questo romanzo delizioso.
Una delicatissima, circolare e a tratti davvero poetica e tragica storia d'amore e d'amicizia.
L’ossessione amorosa di Max, che pervade ogni pagina, mette in gioco sentimenti universali tanto da restare affascinati da questo personaggio che perde e ritrova il grande amore per ben tre volte senza essere riconosciuto, e che fa di tutto perché il suo grande amore non lo riconosca.

Per chi, pur essendo cresciuto, continua ad amare la dimensione della favola
Profile Image for Anca .
162 reviews61 followers
December 1, 2011
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 un triunghi interesant, asemanator cu cel din Pamantul de sub talpile ei - brutala comparatie, dar ma rog..) e cat de multe feste ii joaca timpul omului - chiar daca i se scurge in directia care trebuie - prin aceea ca niciodata nu e timpul potrivit si cand e, nu dureaza mult. Tragico-melodramatica | concluzie, ati zice.

Timpul potrivit pentru Max Tivoli e, ca si pentru B.B., la mijlocul vietii cand isi traieste si fizic varsta reala. In adolescenta, cu o infatisare de batran se indragosteste de o fata de 14 ani, chiriasa sa care, evident, il priveste cel mult ca pe un protector. Primii ani ai vietii sint pentru Max Tivoli cei mai importanti cand isi stabileste obsesiile pe care le urmeaza toata viata - isi gaseste si primul prieten care ii cunoaste secretul, isi invata rolul, si-o gaseste pe Alice, The One.

Regula lui Tivoli, stabilita de mama sa in copilarie, "Fii cine cred ei ca esti", e intr-un fel semnificativa doar in cazul Alice, mama ei si in general, apropiatii. Ceilalti oameni sint doar fundalul, ceva vag si sters, Max nu sufera pentru ca nu se poate adapta acolo, ci mai curand ca nu poate fi acceptat unde vrea el - in cercul lui intim si ca nu poate sa-si poarte varsta in afara, sa-si strige tineretea ca sora sa. Nepasarea lui pentru orice altceva in afara de drama lui de la inceputul vietii (justificata prin adolescenta) devine egoism si provoaca enervare (cititorului din mine, cui altcuiva?) cand devine imun la faptul ca toti ceilalti au probleme chiar daca pot fi priviti ca ceea ce sint ei. Ramane rece fata de suferintele prietenului ce imbatraneste si ofileste si fata de monstruozitatea sa, neobservata pana mai tarziu, coplesit de regrete.


Apare (da, din nou) femeia simbol al vietii, unic sens, perfectiune, dragostea vietii. Iar Tivoli isi traieste iubirea in 3 faze: Prima apare ca pedofilie, a doua e casnicie, dar apreciaza gresit caracterul mult iubitei si moare lent, la propriu, iar a treia, sub forma de copil in fata unei mame adoptive, cand ni se sugereaza nevoia de protectie intr-o relatie, din ambele parti.


Mi-a placut stilul lui Greer, nu e rau, are si caderi in patetism, dar nu discordante. Ce-ar putea sa enerveze sunt panseurile prea dese despre singuratate, diformitate, neacceptare, dragoste. Dar macar originale si cu suflul personajului (clar!). Stiu ca pare deja cliseu in gura mea, dar pentru mine atmosfera si constructia de scena ramane cel mai mult timp in memorie, nu personaje, nu vorbe, nici macar idei (ceea ce e rau, probabil). Iar Greer si-a creat bine peisajul de ansamblu si vocea cu care sa spuna ce are de zis. Si calatoria prin America impreuna cu prietenul lui la batranete mi s-a parut de 1000 de ori mai buna decat a lui Kerouac (hai, omorati-ma) pentru ca peisajele nu-mi erau bagate pe gat ca sa simt cat de liberi erau, pentru ca mi se spune clar ca si personajele se plictiseau dupa atata mers, nu doar noi, muritorii. Si si serile pe veranda mi-au placut, desi Alice adolescenta ma agasa. Si schimbarile bruste din viata lor si atmosfera din casa lor de casatoriti cu faianta din farfurii sparte. Si zapada din San Francisco in care se pierd urme, si Woodward's Gardens, chiar si la sfarsitul sfarsitului zilelor de glorie. Ah, si placut scena de conversatie dintre prieteni la batranete:
Dupa multi ani, cand am imbatranit amandoi si am inceput sa uitam, i-am adus aminte lui Hughie de dupa-amiaza aceea la Woodward's Gardens, cand ne-am vazut pentru prima oara sub balonul miraculos al profesorului Martin. [..:]
-Balon? intrebase el. Nu prea cred.
-Ba da, era un balon argintiu urias si tu m-ai intrebat ce-o mai fi ala.
[...:]
-Uiti tot felul de lucruri, Hughie. Esti batran.
-Si tu la fel, remarcase el.
[..:]
-Era un balon, asa ne-am imprietenit.
-Nu-i adevarat, eu ti-am aratat un numar de magie pe scara.
-Nu-mi aduc aminte ca tu sa fi stiut smecherii cu carti de joc.
Isi scosese ochelarii.
-Am intrat in casa cu tata. Tu incercai sa te ascunzi dupa usa ca un copilas, desi aratai ca senatorul Roosevelt in costum de marinar. Erai foarte caraghios. Am scos dama de pica dintre frunzele ferigii si de atunci ai inceput sa ma admiri.
-Ma rog.
-Ma rog.
Amandoi priviseram spre parcare, plictisiti si fara astampar in calatoriile noastre, sperand sa aflam acolo ceva familiar. Ne-am intors la ziar si respectiv, la chioraitul matelor si n-am mai vorbit un ceas. Asta inseamna sa ai un prieten vechi.




Concluzie: placut, nu dat pe spate, dar facut sa ma simt confortabil cand ma apucam de ea dupa o pauza. Si asta ii trebuia cuiva care nu mai citise de mult si care nu mai are perspective de citit in viitorul apropiat.:)

obs:1. pentru ca probabil n-am reusit sa zic cum trebuie de ce cine nu-i excesiv de cinic poate sa se apropie linistit de ea, aici e ceva mai bine conturat.
2. coperta romaneasca e groaznica, nu vad ce treaba are cu totul, in afara de faptul ca personajul isi scrie memoriile (cartea, practic) cu un pix. partea proasta e ca indeparteaza lumea cu rozul ala. mda.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
56 reviews131 followers
February 12, 2009
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 the beginning of this novel that is not as strange as its premise might suggest, for can't we all relate to the pressure of wanting to match up to others' expectations of us, while simultaneously wanting to be loved in all of our flawed, monstrous truth?

Don't let the Today Show Book Club logo emblazoned on the cover fool you. This is a rare, wise, wonderful book and another literary achievement by this young and thrilling writer.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,440 reviews29.4k followers
July 25, 2011
This book has been on my shelf for a long time, but I finally picked it up the other day and flew through it. I thought this was great! I agree with some of the other reviewers in that the main character wasn't completely likable, but I found the story really interesting (and even a little heart-breaking). It takes a little while to build up steam, but it's well worth the effort.
Profile Image for Megan.
177 reviews11 followers
February 6, 2017
"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 writing is art. He takes this idea and develops characters that are so human and so flawed that you cannot help but love them all. My head stayed in a dream like version of this book, even when I had to put it down.

Another Greer novel worth the read is "The Story of A Marriage". Excellent.




Profile Image for Steve Tetreault.
1,243 reviews
April 21, 2018
I have to start keeping better track of which sources are recommending books to me so I can figure out which one of my sources keeps hitting sour notes...

The central premise of the book, that the protagonist's body is aging in reverse after he is born looking like an old man, seems like it could be interesting. But while that central oddity drives the main action of the book and is a constant source of motivation for the plot, it's almost treated like a background element. It is not explored in any particular way beyond, "How might someone's life go if they were the only one living this way?" So if follows literally the entire life of this character, skipping like a stone across decades, with pauses here and there to dip into the effects this has on the character's life.

And overall, Max Tivoli's life is extremely bleak. It's somewhat interesting at first to see how a young person in an old body might get along. But the character himself is the first-person narrator the book, in the guise of a written "confession", and his internal monologue is not particularly insightful. He labels himself a monster early on, and it seems he is talking about his condition, but by the end, he is talking about his personality, which is not pleasant. But Max is not monstrous or unpleasant in the way of the horror movie monster, giving a thrill by being so awful; instead, he's monstrous in a pedestrian, everyday way that is just painful to have to witness. His monstrousness is his selfishness, which becomes more acute as the story spins along, and yet which is never acknowledged by the narrator himself.

This might all be bearable if Max was the only central character; but he is just one among a cast of selfish actors in this play of misery. As if that wasn't enough, they're mostly rich and white and living lives at a remove from any hardship that might help give them character. Which perhaps is supposed to be the point? Except that is never really addressed anywhere, and even when characters' circumstances change, they don't particularly. So maybe the point is that we are all selfish?

Honestly, I was near to putting this book down unfinished half a dozen times, none more acutely than at the three-quarters mark, when I decided to just grit my teeth and push through to just be done with it, in the hope that there might be some redemption of the story; but it turned out my instincts were spot-on, and I should have stopped.

Make no mistake, this book is a tragedy. It ends on quite a downer for all involved. And if you're looking for a sad story, this might be right up your alley. And perhaps if I'd come across it at some other point, I would have enjoyed it more. I found some of the ideas that were set up to be thought-provoking. How long would it take at different stages of life for people around you to notice that you were not aging normally? How would you deal with such a condition? Would it be a blessing or a curse? How much would the physical affect one's thoughts, feelings, and personality?

Despite the interesting thought experiments engendered by the premise of the book, I was not a huge fan.
Profile Image for Daryl.
562 reviews5 followers
April 23, 2019
This is one of the more finely wrought things I've read in a while. The prose is beautiful (some might say purple, but it really worked for me), the story weird and funny (and sometimes a little creepy) and crushing. I read it quickly but it deserves to be read slowly.
19 reviews7 followers
July 31, 2007
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 tedious and in such sharp contrast to my expectations that I put the book down for several months.

Picking it up again this past week, the book slowly grew on me. The Victorian style lent itself nicely to poignant reflections about the nature of love and life. That might sound overly dramatic, but hey, this guy was aging backwards. If ever a character deserved to ponder the mysteries of life, Max was it.

The main problem I had with this book was that I didn't care for the central characters as much as their dramatic plight seemed to warrant. Max's deformity obviously inspired my sympathies as a reader, but he never exhibited any other notable traits that made me care about him as a character. His unwavering devotion to Alice never struck a deep chord with me because the author depicted her as such an unfathomable, unattainable sprite of a woman. Her allure remained a mystery to me (and to Max himself) throughout the book.

Then again, that seems to be one of Greer's main themes--that our hearts want what they want, even when the object of our desire is questionable.




Profile Image for Luna di giorno.
34 reviews7 followers
September 2, 2018
Una lettera d'amore prima di morire...

È la storia di tutti noi, di come nasciamo e dobbiamo affrontare le avversità dell’esistenza, non della vita ma proprio dell’esistenza, affrontare la nostra bruttezza, nasciamo aborti viventi, il disincanto della solitudine ci viene a trovare, e l’amore non corrisposto fino a che non impariamo davvero ad “amare”. Però qui con Max Tivoli è ancora più complicato, perché il nostro corpo non ci completa per nulla nella nostra essenza più intima, qui il nostro involucro è sempre contro di noi…
Normalmente parlo più delle impressioni che un libro mi trattiene dentro che della reale trama o della vicenda riletta in modo razionale. Tendo a essere concentrata su me stessa come se le cose che scrivo le scrivessi per me, è un fatto di incapacità a guardare davvero fuori da me, guardare gli altri.
Insomma ora mi inchino e senza sapienza invito chiunque a leggere questo romanzo bellissimo (aggettivo banale) perché io senza fiato ho dovuto leggerlo, ed è un romanzo al contrario, si nasce vecchi e mostruosi e si muore mostruosamente neonati, e dalla nascita alla morte si soffre nel sublime, per amore…
Profile Image for Kelly.
447 reviews216 followers
April 29, 2014
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 had planned to read Greer's other books I think I'm gonna treat his work like 9/11...never again.
Profile Image for DaViD´82.
723 reviews74 followers
April 29, 2012
Tak takhle měla vypadat Fitzgeraldova povídka o Benjaminu Buttonovi. Smutek jak sviň.
Profile Image for Mary K.
462 reviews20 followers
October 19, 2020
Brilliant. The author easily pulls off the fantasy plot; the story is brilliant, the writing perfect.
Profile Image for Sara.
22 reviews2 followers
May 22, 2008
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 blog in a day or two, if I have time) because it is still a wonderful book, and you should read it if you find yourself with the time and opportunity. I don't want to spoil it for you; there is a mysteriousness to it which is part of the pleasure of just letting it unfold, and despite some questionable narrative conveniences here and there, the real sinking weakness doesn't happen until the last ten pages. At that point there is a choice the author could have made, and it would have been the right choice, the smart, generous, and credible choice, and he talks about it as the character who should have made it, and then he doesn't choose it but instead picks the most melodramatic, least credible, and most heartless finish, and wraps it all up in pretty, impassioned words that I guess are supposed to make it romantic and Supremely Human but instead just make it go on too long.

The other unforgivable flaw is a completely gratuitous episode of animal cruelty which happens on pp. 106-109 of my edition (which says it is the first edition but has a "Today's Book Club" logo worked into the cover design). This is a terrible, terrible scene, and it adds nothing to the book, nothing, especially for the type of reader most likely to enjoy this book, someone already well aware what that time and place were like, but now it is stuck in my head forever. (Oh, thanks.) I highly recommend you bleep over it when you come to it.

It is a credit to the writing of this book that I didn't slam it shut at this point and throw it away. I did read the rest of the book warily, though, and will not automatically reach for another book by this author because inclusion of this scene as well as the insufferably weak choices that the author made at the very end of his own tale lead me not to trust him to tell me a story on which I will be glad to have spent time. I don't regret most of the time spent on this one, though. The wordcraft alone was quite dazzling.
Profile Image for Alayna.
183 reviews40 followers
April 14, 2019
It's hard for me to dislike any book that makes me cry several times or, in this case, for the last 50 pages. The middle of this book did drag a little and the writing was, yes, a little purple at times BUT the last 100 pages were a real feat of structure and storytelling and the writing was especially beautiful.

You know it can't end well considering it's a Benjamin Button-like story, but I was still struck by how sad it became and not just for one single reason but so many frustrating circumstances in Max's life, all of these things he couldn't help, and different kinds of love that he was trying to balance and hold onto despite his situation. Like others have said, Max isn't a particularly likable person, but all of the people around him are so well-drawn that even if you don't love them, you still find affection for them.

I'M SAD. But glad I read this.
Profile Image for Judith.
1,479 reviews71 followers
March 27, 2009
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 and I found that fascinating. What I liked about it also detracted from the story. I loved the in depth analysis of love and aging, but at times I wanted to slap him and say "snap out of it". He just couldn't get past his first love, and he didn't seem to care about much else in life, which made an interesting love story, but a tedious book.
Profile Image for Bobparr.
953 reviews57 followers
August 5, 2017
La scrittura procede di nuvola in nuvola. Questo è il tono dei libri di G. Delicati, erotici nel loro lento, lentissimo dispiegamento dei fatti. Pur sapendo dove si andrà a parare, la seduzione della trama - che narra di cose antiche, di immagini dimenticate e forse mai osservate, del tempo in cui le emozioni e il sentire erano altra cosa rispetto all'oggi - è pervasiva. Ogni tanto, come lampo di macchina fotografica, una successiva rivelazione che aumenta la curiosità dell'epilogo, speciale e intenso.
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