Andrew Sean Greerâ€™s second novel has a high-concept premise that seems perfect for one of those $3 mass-market sci-fi/fantasy paperbacks. A man lives his entire life aging in reverse, born with the wrinkled, feeble, elderly body of a 70-year-old, and steadily growing younger and younger in his physical attributes and appearance. When Max is 20 years old, he looks like a man of 50; when heâ€™s 50, he has the body of a 20-year-old and so on, until inevitably he transforms into an adolescent, a toddler, a helpless baby.
Of course, in a cheap sci-fi book, the main characterâ€™s name would have to be something that sounds like a new brand of antidepressant medicationâ€”and the story would be trite, gimmicky and shallow. Instead, The Confessions of Max Tivoli is a serious work of literature, written with a precision of language and a depth of feeling that doesnâ€™t simply belie the bookâ€™s quirky premise, it transforms it, elevates it from what could have been just another clever idea to a profound meditation on life, love and the inevitability of growing old.