SMALL FRY A MEM­OIR

The Oldie - - BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR -

LISA BREN­NAN-JOBS Grove, 400pp, £16.99, Oldie price £12.11 inc p&p

‘Small Fry’ was Steve Jobs’s pet name for his daugh­ter, the au­thor of this mem­oir. But this is not a tale of af­fec­tion. It is the story of a com­plex fa­ther-daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship char­ac­terised by con­fu­sion and shame. Bren­nan-jobs grew up in a Sil­i­con Val­ley cov­ered in eu­ca­lyp­tus trees, with her sin­gle mother and very lit­tle money. She was dis­owned by her fa­ther at birth. He, as co-founder of Ap­ple, went on to trans­form Sil­i­con Val­ley into the rich dig­i­tal cap­i­tal of the world. De­spite dis­cour­age­ment she was at his deathbed for a last tor­ment­ing scene in which she re­ceived a near apol­ogy which soothed her ‘like cool wa­ter on a burn’.

‘Un­in­ten­tion­ally or oth­er­wise,’ wrote Me­lanie Reid in the Times, her book ‘feels like an act of re­venge’. The some­times bru­tal story of their re­la­tion­ship could eas­ily turn ‘maudlin, but Bren­nan-jobs is res­cued by un­sen­ti­men­tal hon­esty, wry hu­mour and literary grace’. Ac­cord­ing to Fiona Sturges in the

Guardian, Bren­nan-jobs is not seek­ing re­venge, ‘nor is it about elic­it­ing sym­pa­thy… Not given to drama or sen­ti­men­tal­ity [the mem­oir] is sparse though pre­cise. The more shock­ing the anec­dote the more eco­nom­i­cal the de­scrip­tion, though her wounds are clear.’

The ‘cen­tral com­pelling puz­zle’, wrote Katy Wald­man in the New

Yorker, is ‘Bren­nan-jobs’s con­tin­u­ing need to jus­tify not just her fa­ther’s be­hav­iour but her long­ing for his love’. The real dif­fi­culty, Nel­lie Bowles ob­served in the New York Times, is that ‘her fa­ther’s myth looms so large that she can­not con­trol how her words are re­ceived’.

Lisa Bren­nan-jobs: un­sen­ti­men­tal

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