Lisa Brennan-Jobs on the Shadow of Steve Jobs, and Jill Lepore on the Long Sweep of American History
Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s memoir, “Small Fry,” shares a common theme with many memoirs: the absent parent and the mark left by that absence in the adult writer. But the parent, in this case, is a figure who has also left his mark on the larger world. While Steve Jobs was becoming a titan of Silicon Valley and changed the future of computing, his daughter Lisa and her mother were living near the poverty line, struggling to get by. At first, Jobs avoided his responsibilities to them by denying his paternity. But even after he established a relationship with his daughter, his behavior was capricious and sometimes cruel. Yet Brennan-Jobs insists that she didn’t set out to write an exposé; rather, she wanted to tell a more universal story of a young woman finding her place in the world. “Small Fry,” in other words, is about Lisa, not Steve. “I knew I was writing a coming-of-age story about a girl,” she tells David Remnick, “but that it was going to be twisted into the story of a famous man.” Plus, the historian Jill Lepore on her new book that she says is the result of a dare: “These Truths,” a monumentally ambitious account of five-hundred-plus years of American history.