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The Confessions of Max Tivoli

by

The Confessions of Max Tivoli Cover

 

Staff Pick

In this novel a boy is born with the physical features of a seventy-year-old man and is doomed to spend his life aging mentally while his body marches backwards and becomes younger and younger. The emotional honesty transcends the implausible plot line and creates a beautiful story about what it is to be human — an amazing, memorable read.
Recommended by Danielle, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"The secret to Greer's success in Max Tivoli is his delightfully overwrought voice, his willingness to luxuriate in Victorian conceits of self-pity, love, and confession. For a modern author, it requires balancing on the razor's edge between parody and profundity, and Greer sways precariously between the two in a way that makes it impossible to take your eyes off him." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Book Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor Review)

"The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a mediation on the body as a stranger, as a betrayer: 'I was never going to be safe in my body again; I would be stumbling until I died. I was becoming a child.' This devastating, heartbreaking novel, written in the lush, velvet-tongued voice of the damned, is an astonishment." Adrienne Miller, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An extraordinarily haunting love story told in the voice of a man who appears to age backwards.

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. At his birth, Max's father declares him a "nisse," a creature of Danish myth, as his baby son has the external physical appearance of an old, dying creature. Max grows older like any child, but his physical age appears to go backward — on the outside a very old man, but inside still a fearful child.

The story is told in three acts. First, young Max falls in love with a neighborhood girl, Alice, who ages as normally as any of us. Max, of course, does not; as a young man, he has an older man's body. But his curse is also his blessing: as he gets older, his body grows younger, so each successive time he finds his Alice, she does not recognize him. She takes him for a stranger, and Max is given another chance at love.

Set against the historical backdrop of San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century, Max's life and confessions question the very nature of time, of appearance and reality, and of love itself. A beautiful and daring feat of the imagination, The Confessions of Max Tivoli reveals the world through the eyes of a "monster," a being who confounds the very certainties by which we live and in doing so embodies in extremis what it means to be human.

Review:

"Greer...writes marvelously nuanced prose; with its turn-of-the-century lilt and poetic flashes, it is the perfect medium for this weird, mesmerizing and heartbreaking tale." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Review:

"[T]he delights are many, among them gossamer prose, vivid characterization, and historic snapshots of a fabulous American city. Old-fashioned narrative fun in a literary hall of mirrors." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Greer...never pushes the natural sentiment of the story over the edge into treacle. He thus transforms an idea that could very easily have been a mere novelty into something surprisingly and genuinely affecting." Library Journal

Review:

"Max's narrative...becomes a deeply poignant and mature commentary on life that strums the heartstrings again and again. It's positively captivating." Paula Luedtke, Booklist

Review:

"[A] serious work of literature, written with a precision of language and a depth of feeling that doesn't simply belie the book's quirky premise, it transforms it, elevates it from what could have been just another clever idea to a profound meditation on life, love and the inevitability of growing old....[Greer's near-flawless prose] often reads like poetry; the cadence and imagery create feelings more than simply describe them....Max Tivoli is entertaining and engaging enough to rival any fun, lighthearted fantasy paperback, while also so poetic, and so powerful, that it should please the most particular literary critic." Christopher Farah, Salon.com

Review:

"Max may be a monster, but he is a profoundly human one, a creature whose unusual disorder, far from making him a freak to be wondered at, simply magnifies his normal and recognizable emotions, sharpening their poignancy." Gary Krist, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[A] deft new modern master, poised to take your imagination (not to mention the literary awards circuit) by storm." Elle.com

Review:

"Enchanting....Like Proust, Greer presents life as essentially a solitude, an ever-renewed exile from the present, a shifting set of gorgeous mirages that nothing but descriptive genius can hold fast. Max writes, 'Life is short, and full of sorrows, and I loved it.' His poignantly awry existence, set out with such a wealth of verbal flourishes and gilded touches, serves as a heightened version of the strangeness, the muted disharmony, of being human." John Updike, The New Yorker

Review:

"The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a wondrous novel, shimmering with simultaneous chords of sadness, loss and enchantment. The book also fascinates in its textured view of pre-quake San Francisco, a city of 'gilt-edged gas lamps and velvet walls.' [Greer has] arrived, brilliantly, with an unforgettable novel." Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"The Confessions of Max Tivoli leaves its readers in much the same state as its narrator: bewildered by the sheer unlikely strangeness of life and feeling somehow both younger and wiser on that account." Chris Lehmann, The Washington Post

Review:

"Heartrending...beautifully written...this is a rich and mesmerizing fable. Time will not reverse its impact." People (4-star critic's choice)

Synopsis:

A beautiful and daring feat of the imagination, The Confessions of Max Tivoli reveals the world through the eyes of "monster," a being who confounds the very certainties by which people live and in doing so embodies in extremis what it means to be human.

Synopsis:

Today Show Book Club Pick

An extraordinarily haunting love story told in the voice of a man who appears to age backwards

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. At his birth, Max's father declares him a "nisse," a creature of Danish myth, as his baby son has the external physical appearance of an old, dying creature. Max grows older like any child, but his physical age appears to go backward--on the outside a very old man, but inside still a fearful child.

The story is told in three acts. First, young Max falls in love with a neighborhood girl, Alice, who ages as normally as any of us. Max, of course, does not; as a young man, he has an older man's body. But his curse is also his blessing: as he gets older, his body grows younger, so each successive time he finds his Alice, she does not recognize him. She takes him for a stranger, and Max is given another chance at love.

Set against the historical backdrop of San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century, Max's life and confessions question the very nature of time, of appearance and reality, and of love itself. A beautiful and daring feat of the imagination, The Confessions of Max Tivoli reveals the world through the eyes of a "monster," a being who confounds the very certainties by which we live and in doing so embodies in extremis what it means to be human.

Synopsis:

"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 to win the heart of the same woman three times as at each successive encounter she fails to recognize him, taking him for a stranger, so giving Max another chance at love.

Set against the historical backdrop of San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century, The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a beautiful and daring feat of the imagination, questioning the very nature of love, time, and what it means to be human.

About the Author

Andrew Sean Greer was born in 1970 in Washington, DC, the son of two scientists. He studied writing with Robert Coover and Edmund White at Brown University, where he was the Commencement Speaker at his own graduation in 1992. After years in New York working as a chauffeur, theater tech, television extra and unsuccesful writer, he moved to Missoula, MT, where he received his MFA from the University of Montana. He then moved to Seattle, and two years later to San Francisco. He began to publish in magazines such as Esquire, The Paris Review and Story before releasing a collection of his stories, How It Was for Me. His first novel, The Path of Minor Planets, was published to much acclaim in October of 2001, and his second book, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, came out in February 2004 with FSG. Upon publication, John Updike compared his work to Proust and Nabokov in The New Yorker; in the Netherlands, reviewers have mentioned Kafka and Gogol; a dozen other translations are forthcoming. He lives in San Francisco. His identical twin brother, Michael Greer, is also a writer.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374128715
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Greer, Andrew Sean
Publisher:
Picador
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Aging
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Immortalism
Subject:
Triangles
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
32
Publication Date:
February 2004
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.56 x 5.7 x 1.07 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Confessions of Max Tivoli Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374128715 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

In this novel a boy is born with the physical features of a seventy-year-old man and is doomed to spend his life aging mentally while his body marches backwards and becomes younger and younger. The emotional honesty transcends the implausible plot line and creates a beautiful story about what it is to be human — an amazing, memorable read.

"Review A Day" by , "The secret to Greer's success in Max Tivoli is his delightfully overwrought voice, his willingness to luxuriate in Victorian conceits of self-pity, love, and confession. For a modern author, it requires balancing on the razor's edge between parody and profundity, and Greer sways precariously between the two in a way that makes it impossible to take your eyes off him." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor Review)
"Review A Day" by , "The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a mediation on the body as a stranger, as a betrayer: 'I was never going to be safe in my body again; I would be stumbling until I died. I was becoming a child.' This devastating, heartbreaking novel, written in the lush, velvet-tongued voice of the damned, is an astonishment." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "Greer...writes marvelously nuanced prose; with its turn-of-the-century lilt and poetic flashes, it is the perfect medium for this weird, mesmerizing and heartbreaking tale."
"Review" by , "[T]he delights are many, among them gossamer prose, vivid characterization, and historic snapshots of a fabulous American city. Old-fashioned narrative fun in a literary hall of mirrors."
"Review" by , "Greer...never pushes the natural sentiment of the story over the edge into treacle. He thus transforms an idea that could very easily have been a mere novelty into something surprisingly and genuinely affecting."
"Review" by , "Max's narrative...becomes a deeply poignant and mature commentary on life that strums the heartstrings again and again. It's positively captivating."
"Review" by , "[A] serious work of literature, written with a precision of language and a depth of feeling that doesn't simply belie the book's quirky premise, it transforms it, elevates it from what could have been just another clever idea to a profound meditation on life, love and the inevitability of growing old....[Greer's near-flawless prose] often reads like poetry; the cadence and imagery create feelings more than simply describe them....Max Tivoli is entertaining and engaging enough to rival any fun, lighthearted fantasy paperback, while also so poetic, and so powerful, that it should please the most particular literary critic."
"Review" by , "Max may be a monster, but he is a profoundly human one, a creature whose unusual disorder, far from making him a freak to be wondered at, simply magnifies his normal and recognizable emotions, sharpening their poignancy."
"Review" by , "[A] deft new modern master, poised to take your imagination (not to mention the literary awards circuit) by storm."
"Review" by , "Enchanting....Like Proust, Greer presents life as essentially a solitude, an ever-renewed exile from the present, a shifting set of gorgeous mirages that nothing but descriptive genius can hold fast. Max writes, 'Life is short, and full of sorrows, and I loved it.' His poignantly awry existence, set out with such a wealth of verbal flourishes and gilded touches, serves as a heightened version of the strangeness, the muted disharmony, of being human."
"Review" by , "The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a wondrous novel, shimmering with simultaneous chords of sadness, loss and enchantment. The book also fascinates in its textured view of pre-quake San Francisco, a city of 'gilt-edged gas lamps and velvet walls.' [Greer has] arrived, brilliantly, with an unforgettable novel."
"Review" by , "The Confessions of Max Tivoli leaves its readers in much the same state as its narrator: bewildered by the sheer unlikely strangeness of life and feeling somehow both younger and wiser on that account."
"Review" by , "Heartrending...beautifully written...this is a rich and mesmerizing fable. Time will not reverse its impact."
"Synopsis" by , A beautiful and daring feat of the imagination, The Confessions of Max Tivoli reveals the world through the eyes of "monster," a being who confounds the very certainties by which people live and in doing so embodies in extremis what it means to be human.
"Synopsis" by ,
Today Show Book Club Pick

An extraordinarily haunting love story told in the voice of a man who appears to age backwards

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. At his birth, Max's father declares him a "nisse," a creature of Danish myth, as his baby son has the external physical appearance of an old, dying creature. Max grows older like any child, but his physical age appears to go backward--on the outside a very old man, but inside still a fearful child.

The story is told in three acts. First, young Max falls in love with a neighborhood girl, Alice, who ages as normally as any of us. Max, of course, does not; as a young man, he has an older man's body. But his curse is also his blessing: as he gets older, his body grows younger, so each successive time he finds his Alice, she does not recognize him. She takes him for a stranger, and Max is given another chance at love.

Set against the historical backdrop of San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century, Max's life and confessions question the very nature of time, of appearance and reality, and of love itself. A beautiful and daring feat of the imagination, The Confessions of Max Tivoli reveals the world through the eyes of a "monster," a being who confounds the very certainties by which we live and in doing so embodies in extremis what it means to be human.

"Synopsis" by ,
"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 to win the heart of the same woman three times as at each successive encounter she fails to recognize him, taking him for a stranger, so giving Max another chance at love.

Set against the historical backdrop of San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century, The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a beautiful and daring feat of the imagination, questioning the very nature of love, time, and what it means to be human.

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