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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 4, 2005

Andrew Greer Reads 'Live From Prairie Lights' On WSUI Feb. 18

Andrew Greer will read from his novel "Confessions of Max Tivoli," at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18 on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI.

The reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be a free event at the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

The 2004 novel, a selection of the "Today Show" Book Club, portrays a man who lives his life backwards.

Critic Patrick O'Kelley explains, "Out of the womb in 1871, Max Tivoli looked to all the world like a tiny 70-year-old man. But inside the aged body was an infant. Victim of a rare disease, Max grows physically younger as his mind matures. In Andrew Sean Greer's finely crafted novel, 'The Confessions of Max Tivoli,' Max narrates his life story from the vantage point of his late fifties, though his body is that of a 12-year-old boy . . .

"Greer uses the literary device of reverse aging to interrogate the evolution of social conventions, the finitude of a human life, and the decay of memory. . . . Like the best science fiction and myth, the novel uses its central conceit to reveal human prejudice and explode all assumptions of normalcy to profound effect."

A Publishers Weekly preview observes, "the defining feature of Max's life is his epic love for Alice Levy, whom he meets when they are both teens (though he looks 53). Max's middle-aged gentility endears him to Alice's mother and, like an innocent Humbert Humbert, he allows Mrs. Levy to seduce him so that he might be near his love. When he steals a kiss from Alice, the Levys flee. But heartbroken Max gets another chance: when he encounters Alice years later, she does not recognize him, and he lies shamelessly and repeatedly to be near her again. . . . 'We are each the love of someone's life,' Max begins; it is the implications of that statement, rather than the details of a backward existence, that the novel illuminates."

A starred review in Booklist comments, "Max's narrative, that of a man living in reverse and, perforce, rather alongside of his time than in it, becomes a deeply poignant and mature commentary on life that strums the heartstrings again and again. It's positively captivating."

A graduate of Brown University and the University of Montana, Greer is the author of the story collection "How it Was For Me" and the novel "The Path of Minor Planets."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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