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A Regular Guy

3.21  ·  Rating Details ·  323 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Anywhere But Here and The Lost Father have established Mona Simpson as one of our most accomplished writers. In her new novel--the portrait of a legendary, quintessentially American entrepreneur trapped by the age he helped to define--she brilliantly extends her achievement. More powerfully than ever before, Simpson uncovers the nature of longing and belonging, of blood re ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published May 11th 2011 by Vintage (first published October 8th 1996)
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After reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs last summer, it dawned on me the sister Mona Simpson mentioned is a novelist I was already familiar with. I had read her books "Anywhere but Here" (written in 1992 before she met her famous brother) and"My Hollywood" (written in 2011). I couldn't imagine how meeting and realizing she and Steve Jobs were full-blooded siblings must have impacted her life and writing career.

Of course then I wanted to read "A Regular Guy", knowing that it had
Finally, I managed to read a novel! I hope this is a sign of things come. As for a review: I surely can't be the only person who found her way to Mona Simpson's 'A Regular Guy' because she read about it in Watler Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography. I've been on something of a Steve Jobs tear lately.

Ms. Simpson is Mr. Jobs' biological sister; the two were raised apart but got to know each other as adults. 'A Regular Guy' is a novel about Tom Owens, a thinly veiled Steve Jobs character. (Simpson has
Oct 15, 2011 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good, but difficult book to read. Mona Simpson writes well; she masters a sort of folky writing style where the reader must infer from the dialogue what really is happening behind what is said. Simpson comes across as a dispassionate but very keen observer of things around her. The real beauty of this book, though, can only be understood if you have read a lot about Steve in real life. Without knowing about Steve, this book is entirely without context. More than anything, this work is ...more
Maddi Hausmann
Oct 17, 2011 Maddi Hausmann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Two and a half stars. Maybe two and a quarter.

This was a book club selection, a fictional retelling of the rise and fall (before the return and higher rise) of Steve Jobs. Only in this book Steve Jobs is named Tom Owens, and instead of running a computer company, he runs a company that does something even the omniscient narrator isn't sure about.

And that is one of the fatal flaws of this book. Tom Owens appears to have all his success because he literally is bathed in luck, yet despite the many
Laura de Leon
A very low 3 stars, bordering on 2.5...

The problem for me is that I just didn't get the point of this book.

The words themselves flowed well enough, and they didn't get in the way of the story as I often fear in a literary novel. The story was coherent, and worked well enough in that sense.

I simply didn't get insight into the life of Steve Jobs (or if I did, I just didn't care), and the story didn't have enough strength to stand alone.

This was true of the plot, but even more so of the characters
Stephen Redwood
Jun 23, 2012 Stephen Redwood rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A novel about a curious, complex character and the people who swing in and out of his life. He is brought up by adoptive parents, builds a wildly successful company, develops all sorts of idiosyncratic tastes, has a daughter by a woman he doesn't live with, gets ousted from his company by the person he brings in to run it and has challenging relationships with everyone who gets close to him. So, anything but A Regular Guy. Sound familiar? It should. Written by Steve Job's sister, it is a thinly ...more
Nov 19, 2015 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this after I saw - and loved - the recent Steve Jobs movie. I had read the Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs, and I was intrigued that this remarkable man had a long-lost sister who turned out to be a rather well known novelist. But... I didn't get very far in Simpson's Anywhere But Here several years ago, and I can't say I'm a huge fan of this novel either. Sometimes intriguing, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes just confusing and unappealing, and ultimately inconclusive ... yet ...more
Aye Melo
Oct 25, 2015 Aye Melo marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Sólo lo leería porque me da curiosidad, dado que lo escribió la hermana biológica de Steve Jobs después de haberlo conocido ya de adulta (y el personaje principal está inspirado en él). Aunque por las reseñas ya se puede prever que no es una escritora fantástica... Anyways, someday, someday.
Sep 28, 2012 Mie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scanned
A good book, but there was too much descriptive narrative for my taste. Pace picked up as the book was about to end.

Noah Kaskie deserves some great love though.
Mar 30, 2013 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*spoiler alert*

Born in a commune, Jane, like her mother Mary, is preoccupied with her missing father, Tom Owens. Mary teaches her to drive at 10 years of age and sends her alone in an old truck to find him. Owens has become a famous and rich businessman who is anything but a regular guy. Mary eventually joins Jane, and they become part of a narrow social sphere w/ Owens as the nucleus.

Owens is a self made man who worked his way up the ladder via scientific achievement. His lack of social skills
Jul 18, 2011 Caitlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by Mona Simpson! I'm so disappointed that this was the last one I had to read by her - now I'll have to wait more than a year for her to release another one. In the first few chapters I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get into it, but became fascinated by all of the characters. She is just such a great character writer. Though frustrating, Owens, the "regular guy", was as irregular as they come and kept me interested and captivated. Simpson's writing seems almost raw at times, l ...more
Feb 28, 2016 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mona Simpson wrote an intimate, rambling, pseudo-biographical account of her half-brother, Steve Jobs, his immediate family and his colleagues. The novel gives the impression of hewing closely to Jobs's life, and suffers for that, given the formlessness of any real human existence. It's also embarrassingly indiscrete, betraying what the reader can only assume are family secrets, and scoring points against Jobs's ex-girlfriends and others. These revelations are both its strength and its weakness. ...more
Oct 31, 2014 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book harder to get into than "Casebook." The young heroine and her mother are interesting, as is the male protagonist's wheel-chair bound friend,but the story skips around between their points of view and the "regular guy," the father in this book. The focus seems to be more on him but I am finding it difficult to be interested in his character's development. For some reason, I find myself wishing the book would focus more on the other characters. Perhaps the story will become more ...more
I was curious about this book after reading the Steve Jobs biography. But I kept putting it down and after a few weeks realized it just wasn't capturing my attention, so I gave up. None of the characters were interesting enough to encourage me to read on. I also had difficulty keeping track of all the characters introduced.

P.S. I just reread my earlier review of "My Hollywood" and found that I'd expressed similar concern regarding confusion about too many characters. Perhaps Mona Simpsons's sty
Would I have stayed with this novel if I hadn't known that it was about Mona Simpson's biological brother, Steve Jobs? Probably not. The plot line is messy and the characters, although memorable, are confusing. Simpson's insights into the "anything can happen" world of California start-ups and research in the 1980s are compelling, but not enough to carry the book. On the other hand, her eulogy for Jobs on his untimely death this year are beautiful and touching. I highly recommend reading it in T ...more
Devin Partlow
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Even thought this book came out 16 years before "Owens's" autobiography, alot of the story of "Jane" matches up pretty well. I wonder if the personal life part of Owen's biography was just copied straight from this book.

What's really crazy about this book is that Job -err the fictional Owens started a company that produced cancer drugs which was widely successful instead...

3.5 stars because I don't think this was a fictional as its made out to
Aug 08, 2012 grundoon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Jobs claimed "it's about 25%" him, but I'd guess that's only accurate if "it" is the novel, rather than the character. The book is, after all, primarily about his daughter and her relationships with those around her. And the portrait of "Jane's" father is only marginally fictionalized - his career somewhat more so, crossing well-trodden actual events with Swanson and Boyer's Genentech. A reasonably well written - if occasionally disjointed - story, perhaps more interesting for its approach t ...more
Dec 10, 2014 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I would have finished this if it wasn't for the "insiders" look at Steve Jobs by his sister, the author. It was confusing and had way too many characters. I think I would have much preferred to learn about the character, Noah's future -- although we do get invited to his wedding at the end which gives a little closure. Other than probably main 5 characters, I completely lost track of all the other names and their relationships.
Dec 18, 2011 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was curious to see what Simpson would say about her brother, Steve Jobs, in this thinly-disguised portrait; she did not make him a very attractive human being. I found I had to read some paragraphs over, as her language is often disjointed and hard to decipher. The novel would have been stronger with more characters. I especially grew tired of reading about Mary, the mother of his daughter. Still, I never thought of discarding it; it was worth the effort.
Patricia Bunn
Mar 19, 2012 Patricia Bunn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the book, very similar in style to her book, "Anywhere but here." I know it's loosely based on her real brother, Steve Jobs, so for me it held my interest and I could put a face to Tom Owens, but I'm unclear how accurate the facts were. I thought the ending was a bit rushed, because for years he dated Olivia then married someone else. But maybe that was the point. Still a good read.
Sep 20, 2012 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure how to summarize this book ~ I had the hardest time getting through it but I did manage to finish it. Honestly I took it up to read based on the loose association of a biography on Steve Jobs. There were interesting bits about it but overall it was difficult to read for me. Technically it was well done but I suppose I had no interest in the many characters that I had trouble keeping track of.
Ray Duncan
Like many, I suppose, I read this book hoping for a more personal, insightful perspective on Steve Jobs than the one in Isaacson's biography. Unfortunately that was not the case, at least for me. There are some parallels to SJ's life but many more differences than resonances, and the author's portrayal of life in Silicon Valley does not feel authentic at all. I found the book somewhat tedious, in fact. I liked Anywhere But Here much more.
Nov 01, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The craft of this book (a novel of a genius visionary and his surprise daughter, loosely modelled after the author's biological brother Steve Jobs) is impeccable. The heart is a little bit off: many many times, the main character showed how he valued perfection or beauty over family. An enjoyable read in any case.
Aug 27, 2012 Robin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While described as fiction, a better depiction might be historical fiction, since M. Simpson, who is Steve Jobs' biological sister, based a large percentage of her book it seems, on actual life situations and anecdotes, shared by his older daughter and others. Very well written and another excellent examination of issues character and personality.
Where to begin? First of all, I think Ms. Simpson has a very loose definition of "fiction". I enjoyed the story for what it is-- a slightly fictionalized account of events in her brother Steve's life.

I had heard good things about Simpson, but her narrative's jittery timeline and two dimensional supporting cast left much to be desired.
Apr 25, 2013 Tracy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The content and the context of this book make it interesting and thought-provoking, however, it's not that creatively written and I do have problems with the author because of the context and content of the book. I wouldn't feel comfortable buying this book new. I did learn a few new words, which is always nice, but I wasn't transported and I could definitely put it down, as they say.
Sep 17, 2011 Ruth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mcbook-club
Never really got that into it. Enjoyed thinking of the main character's similarities to the real Steve Jobs, but didn't really think the story or the characters in the book were that compelling. Just OK.
Jul 05, 2014 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: project-2014

Clearly a book that explores Steve Jobs (despite the author's protestation to the contrary) as one might explore any other phenomenon encountered in the world. I wanted to love this awkward and uneven book, but I'm left with it being just an okay way to pass the time of day…

Dec 31, 2009 Jeff rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not a good book at all. Written by Steve Jobs half-sister (I think), and thought to be a semi-profile of Jobs, the book has characters appearing and disappearing all over the place with no seeming rhyme or reason. Not enjoyable at all.
Dec 13, 2012 Janet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring. Had to put it down.
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Mona Simpson was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, then moved to Los Angeles as a young teenager. Her father was a recent immigrant from Syria and her mother was the daughter of a mink farmer and the first person in her family to attend college. Simpson went to Berkeley, where she studied poetry. She worked as a journalist before moving to New York to attend Columbia’s MFA program. During graduate sch ...more
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