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Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs Paperback – August 12, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this tedious parody of the life of Apple founder Steve Jobs, the pseudonymous Fake Steve Jobs (identified in the New York Times this month as Forbes senior editor Daniel Lyons) offers a gleeful sendup of the real Steve Jobs set amid the recent stock options backdating scandal. Throughout, the fake Steve pontificates on everything from his superior management skills (only promote stupid people) to his role in the development of the iPhone (it involves a lot of non-thinking meditation), and is portrayed as a cold, callow narcissist. Blissfully unaware of the legal firestorm raging around him, a mathlexic Fake Steve goes about his daily business, balancing meditation with the firing of employees while the Apple board of directors scrambles to avoid prison time and find a scapegoat. As the fictitious Apple corporation implodes, Fake Steve must decide whether to jump ship or stand by the company. Tech industry watchers who know (or know of) the players will get a kick out of seeing them skewered, but readers who aren't already tuned in to the Silicon Valley technocracy may not quite get it. Fake Steve doesn't really evolve as a character, but as a grotesque caricature, he's fun to watch. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Augusta Metro Spirit, 08/13/08
“The most beautiful incarnation of identity theft to date…A hilarious joyride through the headaches and hassles of the super-rich…Lyons has elevated parody to an unforeseen source of humor and joy, and in so doing, he offers a fascinating critique on modern society…Provides all the entertainment a reader could ask for…The perfect hilarity to open the fall season.”

New York Times Book Review
, 9/14/08
“[A] funny novel.”

Blogcritics.org, 11/13/08
“A really funny and interesting book…written in a very satirical manner…The life of [Steve] Jobs, his family and friends is so surreal, so larger then life you can’t help but be amused and interested…A thoroughly enjoyable book and a definite page turner…I highly recommend this novel to anyone with not only an interest in Steve Jobs and the Apple culture, but also anyone who enjoys interesting characters and an entertaining story.”

, 1/09
“It will make you laugh…[Lyons] has made it his business to nail the Apple guru’s every character tic…[An] imaginative novel.”

Mac Life, June 2010
“Wildly outrageous and highly entertaining.”

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (August 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306817411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306817410
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,475,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Looking for the perfect gift for the Apple fan in your life? If so, your search is over. Get them a copy of Options by Fake Steve Jobs, AKA Daniel Lyons. If you're not already aware, Lyons has been writing a blog called The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs for quite awhile and it features some of the best sarcasm and wit on the planet. He leveraged that fame and fortune to write Options, which takes a fictitious and hilarious look at the Apple stock option backdating scandal.

The Fake Steve blog is a treat to read but I couldn't help wonder whether the style and approach would get old in a book length work. Boy, was I wrong. Daniel Lyons is a genius. He describes events in such fascinating detail that you not only feel you're there but you assume they actually occurred!

My personal favorite is the point towards the end of the book when Jobs meets with Yoko Ono to discuss reselling The Beatles library on iTunes. I won't spoil it by divulging too much here but I laughed out loud more than once while picturing this meeting in my head. There's also a funny twist to the ending, which again, I won't spill the beans on here.

Still not sold? Read this piece from the back cover and tell me it doesn't hit the nail on the head:

"Sometimes I feel like a great chef who has devoted his entire life to monastic study of the art of cooking. I've gathered the finest ingredients, built the most advanced kitchen and prepared the most exquisite meal. So perfect, so delicious, so extraordinary. More astounding than any meal ever created. Yet each day I stand in my window and watch 97% of the world walk past my restaurant into the McDonald's across the street."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most people considering this book should already been familiar with Fake Steve Jobs in his original blogging form. His writing works better in that medium than in this novel -- Fake Steve Jobs is funny when commenting briefly on events in the news, but he's too thin to support an entire novel. The book is episodic, as FSJ deals with various groups though a period corresponding roughly to 2006. We see him dealing with Apple engineers and executives, with lawyers and government prosecutors, rock stars, silicon valley plutocrats, and politicians. With the exception of Larry Ellison, who appears repeatedly, and some fictional lawyers, most of these people get one scene with FSJ then depart the tale.

The funniest parts of the book, in my opinion, relate FSJ's interactions with Hillary Clinton, Yoko Ono, and a fictional retired chip executive named Misho Knedlik. These exchanges all involve nasty insults being launched by characters against each other (FSJ is typically delivering the rockets, though he is sometimes their target as well). Author Daniel Lyons has a gift for amusing nastiness.
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Format: Hardcover
As an occasional reader of the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog, I picked up this book thinking that it was a collection of the "best of" entries already published. Instead, I was totally surprised to find a coherent novel that is even more engaging and hilarious than the blog that got it started.

I couldn't help reading whole passages out loud to my amazingly patient wife while trying not to laugh. While the satire gets more ramped up with every chapter, a lot of the outrageousness is especially funny because it seems so close to the truth.

While I doubt that Steve Jobs has ever had Sting spoon him on a dirty floor while both tripping on ayahuasca, it's not hard to imagine Jobs ping-ponging between believing he is an under-appreciated genius and wallowing in self-doubt and isolation, not just as a reflection of El Jobso, but as one of our cultural obsession recapturing a lost sense of "childlike wonder."
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Format: Hardcover
It turns out that the author of the Fake Steve Jobs blog can write, and well. This isn't quite as constantly laugh-out-loud funny as that website is, but this is a really enjoyable and fast-paced read. You don't have to be an Apple-fan to like it, but you'll probably like it a lot more if you are. The celebrity cameos (Larry Ellison, Bono, and Al Gore) are very funny indeed. FSJ has pulled off a difficult trick: a satirical character based closely on a real person, but who really stands as a character on his own. If the book were totally fictionalized, rather than based on Real Steve Jobs' public persona, it would still be almost as good.

The hilarious cruelty Fake Steve shows on a daily basis on his blog is here in the first part of the book, but is tempered a lot as the story (yes, there's a real narrative and plot) goes on; there are parts that are actually quite sweet and touching.

Options is in the same vein as, and at least as good, to me, as anything Douglas Coupland ever wrote.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For starters, this book has some packaging problems. You'd never know from the wrapper that it was meant to be a novel, rather than (as you might expect, based on the blog) a collection of short essay-like zingers about the tech industry. And while the jacket designer picked the right font (Myriad) the book as a whole suggests not The Steve's aesthetic perfectionism but a cynical make-it-shiny-it'll-sell approach. For goodness' sake, the glue used in this book's binding *smells* terrible. Neither Fake nor Real Steve should have permitted that kind of sloppiness to be attached to his name.

Moving on to substance: this book doesn't have much. The plot, such as it is, is driven by El Jobso's "persecution" by the SEC for options backdating, which causes him to think about dropping out of the industry. This topic is less than gripping, even for Apple cultists. It's dressed up with some enjoyable boardroom backstabbing and we see Steve fire and betray numerous colleagues in amusingly derisory fashion. But the long-form plot you might want from a novel is mostly missing, as the book is written in episodic little nuggets whose connections are sometimes unmotivated. And the Fake Steve character doesn't really develop, beyond the shallowest of eventual revelations (he doesn't really believe he invented the iPod; he worries but then eventually just accepts that he's sociopathically selfish). Meanwhile the novel's other characters are an awkward mix of real names (Jobs loves to get stoned with Larry Ellison, and Hillary Clinton turns out to be kind of mean, ha ha) with fictional and/or fictionalized ones (most of the other Apple staff we meet, the designers and engineers and board members, are composites).
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