Actually, when he began the book he was thinking more of Bob Dylan. In 2001, having published a collection of stories and in the middle of writing a novel, he found himself singing "My Back Pages" — "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now" — and he had what amounted to an epiphany. "I thought that could be a book not like anything I'd written before," he said. "It sounded like a wild adventure that no one's going to want to read, but it could be a lot of fun, and maybe that's the point of it."
The NYT has a discussion with The Confessions of Max Tivoli author Andrew Sean Greer. I have to admit that when I initially heard the premise of the novel, I wasn't quite sure I would enjoy it. Having a rather low capacity to suspend disbelief, I took it as a challenge. It turned out to be a worthwhile one. Tivoli is a character that will stick with me for a long time. Now I have a song to accompany the novel.