August 26, 2018
A devastating memoir with damning details
When Steve Jobs told his daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs that the Apple Lisa computer was not named after her, it was not a cruel lie to a little girl, she insists — he was teaching her “not to ride on his coattails.”
When Jobs refused to install heat in her bedroom, he was not being callous, she says — he was instilling in her a “value system.”
Small Fry: life of Steve Jobs through a daughters eyes
When a dying Jobs told Ms. Brennan-Jobs that she smelled “like a toilet,” it was not a hateful snipe, she maintains — he was merely showing her “honesty.”
It’s a strange thing to write a devastating memoir with damning details but demand that these things are not, in fact, damning at all. Yet that’s exactly what Ms. Brennan-Jobs has done in a new memoir, Small Fry , and in a series of interviews conducted over the last few weeks.
Jobs fathered her at 23, then denied paternity despite a DNA match, and gave little in financial or emotional support even as he became a god of the computing era. Small Fry , which goes on sale on September 4, is Ms. Brennan-Jobs’ effort to reclaim her story for herself.

A tell-all exposé?
The backdrop to her raw depictions of life with and without Jobs is 1980s Silicon Valley. Ms. Brennan-Jobs navigated a childhood on welfare with her mother, artist Chrisann Brennan, and an adolescence ensconced in her father’s wealth.
In passage after passage of Small Fry , Jobs is vicious to his daughter and those around her. Now, in the days before the book is released, Ms. Brennan-Jobs is fearful that it will be received as a tell-all exposé, and not the more nuanced portrait of a family she intended. She worries that the reaction will be about a famous man’s legacy rather than a young woman’s story — that she will be erased again, this time in her own memoir.
On the eve of publication, what Ms. Brennan-Jobs wants readers to know is this: Steve Jobs rejected his daughter for years, but that daughter has absolved him. Triumphantly, she loves him, and she wants the book’s scenes of their roller skating and laughing together to be as viral as the scenes of him telling her she will inherit nothing.

Father’s role
Ms. Brennan-Jobs was born on May 17, 1978, on a commune farm in Oregon. Her parents, who had met in high school in Cupertino, California, were both 23. Jobs arrived days after the birth and helped name her, but refused to acknowledge that he was the father. To support her family, Ms. Brennan cleaned houses and used government assistance. Only after the government sued Jobs did he agree to pay child support.
Small Fry describes how Jobs slowly took a greater interest in his daughter, taking her skating and coming over to her house for visits. She moved in with him for a time during high school, when her mother was struggling with money and her temper, but Jobs was cold and had extreme demands for what being a member of the family entailed. The neighbours next door worried about the teenage Lisa, and one night, when Jobs was out, they moved her from his house and into theirs. Against Jobs’ wishes, the neighbours paid for her to finish college. (He later paid them back.)
Her mother, Ms. Brennan, is portrayed as a free spirit who nurtured her daughter’s creativity — but could be mercurial, hot-tempered and sometimes neglectful. “It was horrendous for me to read,” Ms. Brennan said in an interview. “It was very, very hard. But she got it right.”
Jobs’ infamous venom is on frequent display in Small Fry . Out one night at dinner, Jobs turns to his daughter’s cousin, Sarah, who has just unknowingly offended him by ordering meat. “Have you ever thought about how awful your voice is?” Jobs asks Sarah. “Please stop talking in that awful voice... You should really consider what’s wrong with yourself and try to fix it.”NY Times
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