The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer

 

Science Fiction

The Confessions of Max Tivoli The Confessions of Max TivoliAndrew Sean Greer; Picador 2005WorldCatI read a lot of novels. Most are enjoyable. Some are a notch above. There are some that shine. The Confessions of Max Tivoli is one of those books that shines. Max is an odd character who confesses to killing a man at the beginning of the book. He is writing his memoirs to his 12-year-old son. He is around 59. His son doesn’t know him, but instead knows a boy who is around 11.

Max Tivoli was born with a strange genetic disorder that makes him grow backwards chronologically. He started life with an old man’s body. He’ll end life with a baby’s body. But the old man body had the mind of a child. The baby’s body will have the mind of an old man. Max has spent almost all of his life pretending to be something he’s not. He is fortunate to find Hughie Dempsey, another boy his age who believed Max’s preposterous story. Hughie remains Max’s life long friend.

Max also found Alice Levy. He falls in love with her when he was 17 and she was 14. Unfortunately, he appears to be in his 50’s. If he tries to approach her, a scandal will happen. It is the 1890’s, but that type of December/March relationship will not succeed in any age. Yet he is madly in love with her. The Levy’s disappear one day when Max forgets how he looks and tries to be what he is.

As Max’s mind matures, his body grows younger. Finally, around the age of 35, Max’s mind and body match. For once he and Hughie don’t look like a mismatched pair of friends. He can have relationships with women his own age without it looking scandalous. He develops new relationships, changes his name. Unfortunately, time marches on. How does he hide his youthening appearance from his new relationships? When those relationships break up, how does he mold his new, younger looking self?

The Confessions of Max Tivoli has an elusive feeling to it. This book is written in first person narration, so the reader gets insight into Max’s thoughts, happinesses, and frustrations. He spends most of his life living by “The Rule” – be what they think you are. But sometimes he has to break out and be what he is. That may be a six-year-old boy who looks to be around 65 or a 59-year-old man who appears to be 11. The reader can feel his frustrations, can appreciate his tact. Andres Sean Greer struck the right tone with this book, making it very believable.

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