While reading is generally considered cerebral, not physical, this book breaks the mold, just like Steve, leaving you paradoxically exhausted and invigorated at the same time. Why? To those not using an e-reader, this book is heavy, literally, weighing in at a ponderous 571 pages (the final section, Illustration Credits, eventually hits an unwieldy 630). I found my forearms growing Popeye-like after each chapter.
Walter Isaacson occasionally repeats himself, probably due to the book’s length, thinking, “It’s been a few hundred pages since I said that. Time to reiterate.” To be fair, Isaacson tells the story, at times, out of sequence, so maybe the little reminders make sense. Although rare, Isaacson does judge Steve, and with good reason. Use of the term unfair and its synonyms highlight Steve’s penchant for stealing other people’s ideas (and making them his own).
The jacket cover, the only item Jobs demanded control over–a miracle considering his disposition–is absolutely perfect. Even when you’re not reading, Steve’s shamanic gaze finds its target, enveloping you in an unsettling ooze, a dreadful feeling whose only cure is to read more.
See how one side of his face falls under shadow? That’s not a mistake. Steve had a very dark side. He could be as callous as asphalt, bitterly belittling others in open company, prone to tantrums, as well as unabashed personal tear-fests. That’s right, the billionaire cried a lot. And look at his smug little grin and raised eyebrow. He knew he was a crazy-ass genius, even early in life–his 4th grade test scores rivaled High School Sophomores. Steve’s fierce visage can (and did) immolate at will, which is why I made it a point to place the book face down, to see the rear cover, calmed by his lotus embrace of the 1984 Macintosh.
I realize now that Steve wasn’t always the charming wit, the visionary whose products dazzle us with deftly engineered simplicity. Chief among his transgressions? He wasn’t much of a father. To his son Reed, he mostly doted, but his daughters were generally given short shrift.
But I do get it, Steve. You don’t change the world by pleasing everyone.
Even when I wasn’t reading this book, I thought about it, constantly reminded of Steve’s desire to put a “dent in the universe.” Taking breaks from reading this mammoth, I checked email on my iPad or watched Macworld product launches on my MacBook Pro. Working in the yard, I crank my iPod’s Van Halen mix. Pixar movies are in constant rotation at home, Cars, Wall-E, The Incredibles, Toy Story. Cleaning-up the living room, I nearly trip over an armadillo-sized Buzz Lightyear. In short, I’m surrounded by Steve, and I’m definitely cool with it.
Oh, and One More Thing…
The editors of parenting magazine claim to offer the recipe for raising the next Steve Jobs.
The article fails to mention 2 crucial ingredients:
- Liberal use of LSD, which Steve cited as one of the most significant experiences in his life.
- Put your kid up for adoption, because Steve refers to his biological parents as sperm banks.