A review of 'Fake Steve's' new real book: It's vintage faux Jobs

"Fake Steve Jobs" would understand that I am much, much too important to have read every word of his soon-to-be-released, 248-page book, "Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs."

OK, he wouldn't really understand. Oh, no, "Fake Steve Jobs" would be thunderstruck by the notion that anyone - journalist, Apple underling, common customer, or hell, the president of the United States (if he read) - wouldn't drop whatever trifling matter they were attending to at the moment to absorb his every enlightening murmur.

Yet at the considerable risk of incurring the wrath of FSJ - in real life, Forbes senior editor Daniel Lyons - I must confess that this review of the "parody by Fake Steve Jobs" will, in essence, be a fake, kinda-sorta. I did read enough of an advance copy to vouch for the fact that it is vintage Fake Steve and will amuse both fans of FSJ's blog and those who aren't cool enough to have been in on the joke. But the review itself will cover only every 50th page of the book.

On the opening page, FSJ waxes poetic about the glories of fame, most especially his own, which he embraces with a religious fervor one would expect from a man-god:

"I'm famous because the devices I create are works of art, machines so elegantly crafted and industrially designed that they belong in a museum. My iMac computers and iLife software restore a sense of childlike wonder to people's lives, and bestow upon their owners a sense that they are more intelligent and even, well, better than other people. I also invented the friggin' iPod. Have you heard of it?"

Have you heard of it? It's FSJ's signature line, sort of like Clint's "Make my day" or Arnold's "I'll be back," only in Fake Steve's mind more memorable and meaningful.

On Page 50 we have FSJ admitting "there are some (Apple) building's that even I am not authorized to enter alone, and this is one of them," which sent me scurrying back to Page 49 - I'm not lazy, you know - to learn what building that might be. Turns out it was the iPhone development center, which is tricked out with all the counter-espionage trappings of the White House situation room. Also on Page 49, I found FSJ's priceless description of an Apple "VP of engineering" who was in charge of the iPhone project.

"He's also a flat-out genius and a huge legend in the Valley, a former professor at UC Berkeley who once won a Turing Award, which for geeks is on a par with the Nobel Prize. ... He's also a freak of nature: six-foot-five, a big bright shock of Bozo-red hair, Howdy Doody freckles and skin so white he appears fluorescent. And he has absolutely no regard for personal appearance or personal hygiene. If I hadn't hired him ten years ago he'd still be stuck in some lab at Berkeley building tinker toys and living in some crap apartment in Oakland and scaring the bejesus out of girls from the local escort services. Instead, thanks to me, he's a millionaire many times over, living in Atherton with an incredibly hot wife who has enough class not to cheat on him openly and a pack of little fish-pale red-haired kids who are every bit as glow-in-the-dark scary as he is."

As you can see, FSJ minces no words when describing those who have been so fortunate as to prosper under his tutelage. And I say that as a former freckle-faced, red-haired kid.

By Page 100 FSJ is up to his criminally handsome locks in the stock options nonsense and is taking a pounding from a pack of journalists who aren't even fit to be fired by a man of his genius. Displaying an uncustomary degree of introspection and candor, he laments this unfair turn that his deservedly charmed life has taken.

"I'm not a lawyer. I'm also not an MBA. I have those people on my staff, and they take care of stock market stuff. What I am is an artist. Like Andy Warhol. You think people ever hassled Andy Warhol about stock options. Man oh man."

Jackals looking for their 15 minutes, the whole lot of them. By this point in FSJ's narrative it's clear that all but the most hard-hearted of readers will be standing steadfast with the man who, after all, invented the friggin' iPod.

On to Page 150, where FSJ realizes that nit-picky regulators and cackling journalists are now the least of his worries (and, hey, books really fly when you read this way ... wish I'd thought of it back in the college days). FSJ has arrived at work to find on his desk - "the big one, the one with nothing on it" - a copy of the Wall Street Journal featuring a flattering profile of Apple's second in command. Oh, no.

"In case you don't know what it means to have your company's Number Two guy glowingly profiled on B1 of the Wall Street Journal, let me explain it to you: someone is trying to kill me and I'm pretty sure I know who it is."

No spoilers here, I promise, although by Page 200 there remains no doubt that panic has begun to wrap its boney digits around the throat of Mr. Cool. He's meeting with a shadowy "fixer" and the conversation has turned to options of a different kind.

"Easiest thing is to go on vacation and stage my own death. Heart attack works best. Accidental drowning isn't bad either, he says. Taking the family is an option, but it will cost me."

How could it have come to this for the man who, well, you know.

By the end of the book's epilogue, Page 248, we learn that ... again, I can't reveal too much, but let's just say it involves, as would only be appropriate, "the next great machine."

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