Grace's Reviews > The Confessions of Max Tivoli

The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer
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's review
May 04, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, read-in-2009

I think people need to stop comparing this book to F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." Yes, they are both stories about growing young while those around you grow old, but, like everything else in literature - it's all been done before. Most books you read will have similarities to something you've read - a certain type of conflict, unrequited love, coming of age, etc. And this book is about a man who grows young instead of old. I'm also slightly annoyed by the comparison since the a big reason why the comparison is out there is because it was just made into a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt.

Author Andrew Sean Greer crafts a story that blends fantasy with fiction. He makes the impossible: growing young instead of old, seem realistic through back story (other examples of the similar phenomenon) and his portrayal of Max Tivoli. Max may not read like the most likable character in modern fiction, but I'm not sure if that's the point of the novel. It's kind of hard to like, empathize, or sympathize with a character who is going through something we could never begin to fathom. The idea of loving a teenage girl while you are an old man, marrying that same woman when she is in her 30's and you are about middle aged, and then loving her like a mother when she's in her 50's and you are 12 is not something I could even begin to imagine. Nor could I imagine sharing a room with my teenage son, who thinks I'm a little "duckbrain."

But, I can relate to the love Max feels for Alice. Sure, he goes about it the wrong way sometimes. He also doesn't take her feelings and reactions into account when he says and does things. But he's just a man trying to make his way through the world and the relationships we build in that world, just like the rest of us. He just has the unfortunate lot in life to have to do it looking old when he is young and looking young when he is old.

Overall, I liked the book. It was a good, thought provoking read. You can't ask for much more than that.


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