Salon disparages mass-market sci-fi in review of Greer novel

Electrolite skewers Christopher Farah’s review at Salon of Andrew Sean Greer’s The Confessions of Max Tivoli, in which Farah asserts that:

Andrew Sean Greer’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 he’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 character’s name would have to be something that sounds like a new brand of antidepressant medication—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 doesn’t simply belie the book’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.

Visit the site to see Nielsen Hayden’s response and to weigh in yourself, in the comments section. (Via Beatrice, and stop in at Return of the Reluctant for Ed’s take.)


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