Saturday, June 03, 2006

"The Confessions of Max Tivoli" by Andrew Sean Greer

“The Confessions of Max Tivoli” first came to my attention while reading an interview with Khaled Hosseini, the author of “The Kite Runner.” I had been so blown away by that book, and so impressed with the style of the author, that I could only imagine how moving a book that made even Khaled Hosseini weep would be to me! I stuck it on my bookcrossing wishlist, thinking that maybe some errant rabck-er (random acts of bookcrossing kindness) or bookcrosser would hear my plea. Otherwise, I’d keep scanning the thrift shop shelves. Barely a day later, the ever-faithful Lotus e-mailed that she had the book and would be happy to send it to me. WOW! Thank you thank you as always, Lotus.

I put it near the top of my stack, and finally got to bite into it when we returned from England a few weeks ago. Immediately, I began to draw comparisons between this book and “The Time Traveller’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. They would make good comparative literature, for anyone who is interested. Both books combine a supernatural element—almost fantastic—into an otherwise basic love story. In “The Time Traveller’s Wife,” the main character randomly drops out of sight, leaving only his clothes behind, and travels to another point in his lifetime. In “Max Tivoli,” Max is born as an old man, and ages backwards until infancy.

The idea of finding the love of your life several times throughout your lifetime and them not recognizing you each time is intriguing, but just didn’t ring true to me from the outset. I saw a woman at the park one day, about 15 years and 1000 miles from when I’d last seen her, and I knew immediately who it was. So why wouldn’t a life love recognize the other in the same amount of time? Well, anyways, I found the prose a bit too lofty, the detail a bit lacking, and never felt as though I knew a single character thoroughly.

Overall it was an entertaining book, but not one that will stay with me past tomorrow. I think with a little more time, care, and detail, this idea could have made an amazingly heartbreaking and truly unique love story, but I was left a little cold.

Please email me if you'd like to read it... I'd be happy to send it to anyone willing to post a comment on bookcrossing and pass it along to yet another friend.


Jay said...

I've read Time Traveler and Kite Runner, but not this one...I can add it to my list, which means I'll have to get back to you in 4-5 years.

hellomelissa said...

that's funny, jay! i think many of us are in that same boat-- too many books, not enough time.

Lotus Reads said...

Melissa, thank you for reading and reviewing this book and doing it so well, too! I was intrigued when I read that the protagonist gets younger as time goes by and couldn't resist locating a copy on bookcrossing, but sadly, I never did find the time to read it, so glad you could do it for me! :)

J said...

I was tempted by the comparison, and by the fact that Hosseini loved it, but your review made me say, eh, no thanks. So, Thanks for that, because I have enough books in my pile right now already! :)