SMALL FRY A 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