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The Confessions of Max Tivoli

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  6,238 ratings  ·  787 reviews
"We are each the love of someone's life." So begins The Confessions of Max Tivoli, a heartbreaking love story with a narrator like no other.

Born with the physical appearance of an elderly man, Max grows older mentally like any child, but his body appears to age backwards, growing younger every year. And yet, his physical curse proves to be a blessing, allowing him to try t
Paperback, 267 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by St. Martins Press-3pl (first published 2004)
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Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foolish romantics
Recommended to Jaidee by: a random and welcome choice
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,
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 amic
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.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" revamped; 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 t
Dec 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 10
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
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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 a
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Tak takhle měla vypadat Fitzgeraldova povídka o Benjaminu Buttonovi. Smutek jak sviň.
Karin Baele
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dankjewel Christine Bonheure voor dit prachtig cadeau! x
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
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
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 in
Apr 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Megan by: Claire Whitmore
Shelves: fiction, favorites
"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
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
Larry H
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 23, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
Mar 26, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 i ...more
May 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Erika Miller
May 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
This wasn't terrible, but the main character was far too self-centered for my liking. His "confessions" droned on, and revealed a highly unlikeable person. We should be striving for something more in our lives than seeking to arrange the universe as we see fit. Max thought only of himself throughout his life...strange and difficult as it was and managed to use up anyone he got close too. This made the story difficult for me to get through. At best, we can take Max's oft quoted wisdom, "We are ea ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a lovely, sad book about a man with Benjamin Button’s aging quandary and elements of Midsummer Night’s Dream everybody-loves-the-wrong-person dilemma. The author does a wonderful job re-creating the aura of the turn of the century and beyond, through which Max uncomfortably makes his way, not really being what he appears to be. His discomfort and pain are well conveyed, as are those of the other important people in his life when we learn their secrets. Charming and heartbreaking-I reall ...more
Molli B.
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this way back when it was new, and I barely remember anything other than that I really enjoyed it. If I ever unearth my copy, I'll reread it.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lett-usa
Son rimasta affascinata dalla vicenda di Max Tivoli. E' una storia di per sè assurda e impossibile ma mi è apparsa così vera e plausibile da sentirmi da subito molto vicina al protagonista. E' stata una lettura che mi ha richiesto anche una certa calma per assaporare la vicenda e molti bellissimi passaggi, come non sempre faccio o mi capita. Trovo poi molto bello il rapporo di amicizia che lo lega a Hughie e che tutto diventi via via più profondo, più bello e più doloroso. Una lettura originale ...more
Claire Monahan
May 19, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Nov 08, 2011 rated it liked it

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
Sep 15, 2007 rated it liked it
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
May 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, fiction
What a fascinating and original book. Set during turn of the century San Francisco, poor Max Tivoli is a boy unlike any other. He is born a tiny, wrinkled old man and ages in reverse. This story follows his life as he tries to adjust to his “condition.” His mother teaches him to live by the golden rule: “Be what they think you are.” However, Max considers himself a monster. In fact, this is a memoir of an extremely sensitive, but sometimes selfish, man who wants nothing but what life has to offe ...more
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Missing earthquake piece from my memory... 1 1 Nov 25, 2018 08:25PM  
Like "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"? 18 489 Oct 14, 2011 08:06PM  
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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
“We are each the love of someone's life.” 53 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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