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The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean…
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The Confessions of Max Tivoli (2004)

by Andrew Sean Greer

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1,355445,685 (3.69)60
Recently added byprivate library, fallaspen, vlcraven, bexliterature, ASmithey, SuzyK222
  1. 20
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (crazybatcow)
    crazybatcow: This short story about Benjamin Button has the same premise as Max Tivoli but the movie rendition of this title, with Brad Pitt, far far outweighs the short story on which it was based.
  2. 00
    The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (suzanney)
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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
I read this one just after reading Behind the Scenes at the Museum , which was interesting, because both stories begin just before the birth of the narrator. In this case, Max Tivoli. He’s born an old man of about 70, meaning he’s young on the inside, but looks old on the outside. As he ages internally, he grows younger externally. This is the story of his life. It’s well-written and interesting, tying in historical events (the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, for one) and capturing the world through the eyes of a man who isn’t seen for who he is by the world.

About a day-long read, a fun and occasionally thought-provoking distraction. ( )
  vlcraven | Oct 11, 2014 |
When I first started it, I was extremely doubtful. The premise sounded interesting, but the writing was so thick and wordy. Something about it just left me extremely bored. I didn't really care about Max and none of his problems got me interested.

I'm not sure where that changed. At some point it got super deep and fascinating and I found myself wishing I were reading it whenever I wasn't. The last half sped by. I finally got to the point where I didn't want to put it down. The wordy writing turned eloquent and beautiful, and my heart started to break a bit with every new problem Max had to go through.

Sometimes he was stupid. Sometimes I couldn't believe the choices he made. But I don't think I ever hated him. It was all too tragic and perhaps beautiful.

In short, it's a very beautiful and powerful book. Yet, I'm still not sure if I liked it or not. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | Aug 19, 2014 |
I was under the impression the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was based on this book. This is not the case. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a short story around 1921 with the same title. It amazes me the author has not been questioned about how similar the stories are. ( )
1 vote AspieNerdGirl | Aug 12, 2014 |
San Francisco, magical realism, 2014 ( )
  geogal | Mar 15, 2014 |
It's basically a less romantic, creepier version of Benjamin Button. It doesn't really seem to have anything new to add so if you've already seen the movie of that there's not much point to reading this book. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
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. The course of true love, after all, doesn't run smooth -- even for those of us whose biological clocks move forward. So Max turns out to be not so strange a beast after all. He's doomed to improvise his way through life, just like the rest of us, dodging heartbreak and disappointment at every step, forever baffled by the absurd, hopeless ordeal of loving another human being.
added by SimoneA | editNew York Times, Gary Krist (Feb 8, 2004)
 
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Epigraph
Love..., ever unsatisfied, lives always in the moment that is about to come.--Marcel Proust
Dedication
For Bill Clegg
First words
We are each the love of someone's life.
Quotations
We are each the love of someone’s life.
And though I knew the smile faintly forming on her face as she left was not for me, and the sleepless night she would spend was not over my bearded face, still I was there in it somewhere. I was a houseboy of her heart. When we are very young, we try to live on what can never be enough. [78-79]
The past had its back already turned; there was no speaking with it. [82]
We were wed in May 1908 and I knew every inch of ecstasy. [167]
But people do not keep their secrets because they are so clever or discreet; love is never discreet. They keep them because we don't care enough to notice. [196]
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312423810, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:58 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"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 neighbor 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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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