Her character was prominent in Aaron Sorkin’s movie Steve Jobs–the precocious little girl whose father, the cofounder of Apple, kept denying he was her father. In Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s new book Small Fry, she describes life with her struggling mother, Chrisann Brennan, while her mysterious millionaire genius father popped in and out. Brennan-Jobs tells her story in a literary style, with a frankness that works well with the subject matter. Here are some of the pithiest snippets, taken from a recently published excerpt at Vanity Fair.


In the spring of 1978, when my parents were 23, my mother gave birth to me on their friend Robert’s farm in Oregon, with the help of two midwives. The labor and delivery took three hours, start to finish. My father arrived a few days later. “It’s not my kid,” he kept telling everyone at the farm, but he’d flown there to meet me anyway. I had black hair and a big nose, and Robert said, “She sure looks like you.”

The Lisa

During the time my mother was pregnant, my father started work on a computer that would later be called the Lisa. It was the precursor to the Macintosh, the first mass-market computer with an external mouse—the mouse as large as a block of cheese. But it was too expensive, a commercial failure; my father began on the team working for it, but then started working against it, competing against it, on the Mac team. The Lisa computer was discontinued, the 3,000 unsold computers later buried in a landfill in Logan, Utah.


Until I was 2, my mother supplemented her welfare payments by cleaning houses and waitressing. My father didn’t…