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The Confessions of Max Tivoli | [Andrew Sean Greer]

The Confessions of Max Tivoli

Max Tivoli is uniquely cursed. His mind ages normally, but he is born with the withered body of a 70-year-old man, and his body ages in reverse. Despite this torment, Max manages three times to cross paths with Alice, the woman who captures his heart. Because he appears to be a different person each time they meet, Max has three chances for true love.
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Publisher's Summary

From critically acclaimed, award-winning author Andrew Sean Greer comes a story like no other. The Confessions of Max Tivoli is an ambitious and imaginative novel that leaves an inedible impression on readers.

Max Tivoli is uniquely cursed. His mind ages normally, but he is born with the withered body of a 70-year-old man, and his body ages in reverse. Despite this torment, Max manages three times to cross paths with Alice, the woman who captures his heart. Because he appears to be a different person each time they meet, Max has three chances for true love.

A story of self-discovery and sacrifice, set against momentous historical events, including the Great San Francisco Earthquake and World War I, The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a spellbinding masterpiece.

©2004 Andrew Sean Greer; (P)2004 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Greer's second novel plumbs the agonies of misdirected love and the pleasures of nostalgia with gratifying richness....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)
Greer pinpoints the 'tiny hidden madnesses in ordinary people' with unerring accuracy, and, in prose littered with sparks, makes palpable the longing for the celestial." (The New Yorker)
"Greer is a writer to watch." (Boston Globe)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (205 )
5 star
 (61)
4 star
 (61)
3 star
 (49)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.6 (23 )
5 star
 (5)
4 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
3.6 (22 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Diana 05-10-04
    Diana 05-10-04 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
    133
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    164
    17
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    3
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    "Unfufilling"

    I was captured by the premise of this book as I thought it might be similar to The Time Traveler's Wife. It definitely was not! The annoying omnisience of describing in details one's own conception as well as the writer's self pitying whining instead of getting on with the story reminded me of Middlesex. The reader's voice irritated me with a subtle smacking and a know-it-all intonation that was just unbearable to me. I didn't finish this one.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Covington, LA, USA 07-31-05
    Tom Covington, LA, USA 07-31-05 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    45
    1
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    0
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    "Preposterous Premise, Captivating Tale"

    I am absolutely captivated by "The Confessions of Max Tivoli." Its premise is preposterous, but after one employs willing suspension of disbelief, it makes for a great story. Max Tivoli is born with a 70-year old body which, as he gets older, gets younger. His "confession" is made when he's 60, but his body appears to be that of an 11-year-old. In it he reveals that he had encounters with the same woman--with whom he is madly in love--three different times in his life. She thought he was three different people. It says much about the underrated thing that is the love a man can have for a woman, and its steadfastness. It has its flaws--too many coincidences, and I typically guessed every surprise before it was revealed--but I still am enjoying it greatly. And nobody could say that this isn't a highly original plot line.

    Tastefully yours,
    Tom Fitzmorris

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John New Boston, NH, United States 04-27-04
    John New Boston, NH, United States 04-27-04 Member Since 2003

    Father, teacher, writer, curry enthusiast.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
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    7
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    Overall
    "Possibly the saddest book ever written"

    This book was so sad that it really challenged me to finish it. It was too well-written not to continue with, however. I ended up listening to it in ten minute snatches, so that it took me well over a month to listen to.

    What sounds like whinyness on the part of the main character turns out to be something far different - guilt that is only fully understood in the last chapter or so. I could not possibly imagine myself reading this book, but having stumbled onto it, I feel changed for having read it.

    Sad, but changed.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Dunnahoo Portland, OR USA 03-03-04
    Sean Dunnahoo Portland, OR USA 03-03-04 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "odd premise, but it works!"

    I usually have a hard time with premises that are unbelievable. But the combination of a great story and wonderful narration make this a must-hear book. Greer covers love, aging, relationships, and more in a unique turn-of-the-century story. The narrator's style definitely added to the emotion of the experience.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melisa 03-25-04
    Melisa 03-25-04 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    146
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    337
    33
    FOLLOWERS
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    2
    1
    Overall
    "More Drama/Tragedy than Sci-Fi"

    This book was not at all what I was expecting, having ordered it from the Sci-Fi category. It was depressing from beginning to end, and more than a little bit ridiculous. I don't mean to say that it was a bad book. It was well written and well narrated and the story line was an interesting concept, though I didn't care for the way it was handled. I wouldn't recommend it if you are looking for Sci-Fi, but if you enjoy drama and tragedy and don't mind if the main character gets more pathetic with each chapter, you may enjoy it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-06-04
    03-06-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    3
    2
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    "Highly Recommended"

    Superb narration! The story is tightly written and never slows down, maintaining its many layered suspense with well-timed rewards.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Casey Phoenix, AZ, USA 04-23-08
    Casey Phoenix, AZ, USA 04-23-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    153
    ratings
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    106
    43
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    5
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    Overall
    "Intriguing, but Sad."

    There are numerous morals to this story. Don't judge a book by its cover. We always want what we can't have. If I knew then what I know now. ... I could go on.

    Max is largely sympathetic, particularly in his youth (looking like an old man). He becomes less so as his lifelong obsession with Alice, or rather with possessing Alice, morphs into a crazed self-centeredness. While he starts out looking like a "monster," as he puts it, Max nearly becomes one by the end.

    I am not sure I enjoyed this book save the passage where Max meets his son Sammy, age 12. There I laughed out loud. However, the book was intriguing if not incredibly heart-breaking. In the end, this is a love story, but not simply the one that's advertised.

    I liked the treatment -- present day mixed with flashbacks. And, the narrator was quite good at the most of the voices (especially the young boys) though I could hear him swallow at times, which drives me crazy. It's not enough to ruin the experience, but I sometimes wish the producers would take care to edit that out.

    If you are interested in twists on the human drama, this one will probably work for you.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Everett New York, NY, USA 08-16-04
    Everett New York, NY, USA 08-16-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
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    8
    8
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    Overall
    "Memorable character, moving story"

    This story, told in the first person, is of a character (Max Tivoli) who ages in reverse. As a baby he looks like a withered old man. He progressively grows younger looking, passing (in appearance) through adulthood, until finally he begins to look like a child. Despite the progression of his appearance from old to young, he matures mentally and emotionally in the normal sequence. The admonition given by his mother early in life is always to act the way he appears. Thus, as a child, Max has to feign the behaviors of an adult. In middle age, his apparent and real ages more or less coincide. In old age, he appears like a pre-adolescent and, tragically, must try to fit into the life of a pre-adolescent, despite having had a lifetime of experience. At first, as I started to listen to this book, I had some qualms about the premise of this book: aging in reverse. It simply seemed to contrived. Once into the story, I began to realize that this plot device served to develop a character who had to behave and live out an identity, not as he wanted, but as others expected. We all have the experience, at one point or another in our lives, of acting as others would have us act, rather than the way we trully feel. What if we had to live an entire life like that? That is the tragedy of Max's life, and the way that Greer brings it to light is palpable and moving. The narration by Brian Keeler is entertaining. Highly recommended.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James toronto, Ontario, Canada 08-28-06
    James toronto, Ontario, Canada 08-28-06 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
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    7
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    "Incredible"

    This is a great book, some of the best story-telling I've ever read. I'm not going to say as good as John Irving, but very worth the time.

    The premise, which at first take seems a bit awkward, is handled very well and in a very engaging way.

    The narration was flawless. What can I say...one of the best selections of fiction I've downloaded from Audible, a grand journey.

    There's really nothing bad to say, except that perhaps that the take-away message is not exceptionally deep and profound.

    Highly recommended!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ross Dublin 14Ireland 06-30-05
    Ross Dublin 14Ireland 06-30-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    47
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    12
    FOLLOWERS
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    1
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    Overall
    "Original and entertaining love story"

    Don't let the unlikely premise of this story put you off. It's a very original and entertaining love story. The writing is fresh and the naration deserves five stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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