The Confessions of Max Tivoli
By Andrew Sean Greer
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374128715, 288pp.)
Publication Date: February 2004
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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.
Andrew Sean Greer is the author of the story collection How it Was For Me (Picador) and most recently a novel, The Path of Minor Planets (Picador). He lives in San Francisco, California.
Praise for The Path of Minor Planets:
"One of the wisest, most compassionate novels about smart people's emotional lives to come around in years." --San Francisco Chronicle
"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." --The Boston Globe