Thursday, November 3, 2016

max tivoli

The Confessions of Max Tivoli is the book upon which the movie 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' is based. I recall seeing portions of that movie but I haven't seen the whole thing. You folks that have can judge for yourselves, but I think the book has substantial some differences.

Max has a strange condition, which makes his young life difficult, and as he gets older, he has hopes that things will get easier; and they do, for a while. Max is in love, and has been so his whole life. The object of his affection goes from tortuously close, to fleetingly present, to completely gone from his early life, with surprising speed.

From that point on, Alice Levy becomes the sun about which Max spirals for the rest of his life. Sometimes closer, sometimes further away, but he always feels her pull. She is grand, ethereal, loving, and utterly unsympathetic to his obsession.

Max is caught in a gravitational tug of war between the sun on one side and his illness, on the other. His illness robs him of the temporal anchor the rest of us have, leaving him un-moored, in a constant free fall, about Alice. He is also torn between that love, and an aching, nearly debilitating self-pity.

The plot gives Andrew Sean Greer a unique opportunity to look at some interesting human traits: what it means to be in love, how we relate to one another as we move through time, what it means to be a person, and interestingly, a look at the old adage 'youth is wasted on the young.' Perhaps youth is wasted on the young, but I'm not sure the alternative works out all that well. I saw parallels to the sadness of the elves in Tolkien's stories in Greer's portrait of Max Tivoli.

Read this book.

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