Jennifer Reese
February 06, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Confessions of Max Tivoli

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Andrew Sean Greer
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Here’s a nifty, one-off literary gimmick for you: Max, the starry-eyed narrator of Greer’s florid second novel, is born in the body of a 70-year-old man and is doomed to live his life in reverse. He is also doomed to love only Alice, whom he meets in the 1880s when she’s a nubile teenager and he’s a stodgy grandfather figure. Greer has fun describing what it’s like for Max to adore Alice first as a dirty old man, then as an age-appropriate husband, and, finally, as her adopted son. But chilly Alice doesn’t inspire the same palpitations in the reader that she does in Max, and the charm of this inventive, elegantly written, but featherweight book resides in its novelty rather than anything substantive it has to say about love or life.

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