Steve Jobs haunting face appeared every time I turn on my Apple computer, until finally I changed the default page. Today is Steve Jobs Day; promoters are suggesting you wear a black turtleneck and jeans; you might also want to go barefoot. Accolades to this genius who revolutionized communication are still seeping into the networks, but Maureen Dowd’s recent column on Jobs’ family background – Prospero’s Tempestuous Family – inspired me to find a new author – Mona Simpson.
Money can buy secrecy or reinvent a public face, but evidently, it still doesn’t buy happiness. Dowd summarized Steve Jobs’ background as an illegitimate child abandoned by his college student parents to adoption in the fifties, and then his search for them in later years to find not only his mother, married and then divorced from his birth father, but also a sister, who had become a novelist – Mona Simpson.
In Mona Simpson’s roman à clef, A Regular Guy, Steve Jobs is disguised as Tom Owens. Like Jobs, he dropped out of college, created a multimillion dollar business at a young age, and abandoned his own illegitimate child – a daughter. Within the first 50 pages, Simpson had already presented a chilling image of the protagonist – a brilliant entrepreneur who carefully constructed his emotionless life; the prose and the story were gossipy but not compelling to read.
Walter Isaacson, biographer of Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, has his biography of Steve Jobs ready for publication this month. It will be interesting to see how much of the family drama he includes.