I need a regular guy
Now, in her third novel, the narrator Ann Atassi has been replaced by a third-person narrator recounting the adventures of young Jane di Natali, but the theme remains the same: the search for, and the attempt to understand, the absent father. This time the father is a millionaire biotechnology magnate named Tom Owens. Into Owens's charmed life comes Jane, born out of wedlock, raised in communes, and now dispatched into his care by a mother who is no longer capable of providing it; Tom is far from ready for this responsibility. Fans of Simpson's previous novels will not be disappointed by this excursion into the cracked world of family relations.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Joe Walsh - Ordinary Average Guy
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Return to Book Page. Now, in her third novel, the narrator Ann Atassi has been replaced by a third-person narrator recounting the adventures of young Jane di Natali, but the theme remains the same: the search for, and the attempt to understand, the absent father. This time the father is a millionaire biotechnology magnate named Tom Owens. Fans of Simpson's previous novels will not be disappointed by this excursion into the cracked world of family relations.
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Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of A Regular Guy. Jul 11, Marcellina rated it liked it.
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 before she met her famous brother and"My Hollywood" written in 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 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.
Of course then I wanted to read "A Regular Guy", knowing that it had caused strain with her brother, as the main character millionaire tech magnate Tom Owens is clearly modeled after her brother, and he's a complicated, imperious soul. But what I enjoyed so much is the perspective of Jane, the young daughter he was reluctant to claim and imagine what his real daughter Lisa's life must have been like. It was a great read even if it didn't have any basis in reality. Clearly Simpson and her brother shared alot of similar brilliant, creative genes.
Oct 17, Maddi Hausmann rated it it was ok 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 Two and a half stars. Tom Owens appears to have all his success because he literally is bathed in luck, yet despite the many times we're deep in his inner thoughts, we don't know what the hell either of his companies does to make money.
There's some product called N12, but whether it's a polymer, an antibiotic, or a vaccine, I couldn't tell you, and neither could Tom. And I find that completely unbelievable.
Nobody could start two firms so important that mysterious Bohemian Club backers are discussing Owens running for California Governor, and not be aware of what the places are doing. And that's not Owens' fault. That's Simpson's failure to convince me that Owens was who she said he was, or that Alta actually existed in one particular place.
Not only does Owens not know how he made his millions, but his town can't figure out if it's in Silicon Valley or the Sierra foothills. I suspect Simpson hasn't been to either place, because she shows Owens voting for the first time and literally pulling a lever of an old-fashioned voting machine. Had Simpson actually visited California, she would discover those machines weren't used out here. Similarly, she can't place the town where the novel occurs, because she describes it as being both in Santa Clara County e.
Silicon Valley and next to a town called Auburn a real city of that name is a suburb of Sacramento in the foothills, miles away. We don't know where Alta is because Simpson doesn't know, so she can't make it real enough. Her Tom Owens character lived in a copper magnate's decaying mansion as did Jobs, in Woodside, 10 miles from Palo Alto and then bought a house in "Alta" Jobs bought a house in Palo Alto. But he grew up in "Auburn. Is it Mountain View, where he also lived? Both these towns are right next to Palo Alto.
For example, Tom Owens' mother died at his birth and he was given up for adoption. Steve Jobs' mother gave him up at birth but stayed very much alive So in this novel Simpson literally killed off her own mother as a plot device.
It isn't just the instability of place and business that's the problem; there's also a tendency to shift Point of View more often than the reader turns pages. If I came across this novel in one of my writing classes I would red-ink "POV shift" every three paragraphs. Now, I recognize that a good writer can break the rules if it's done well.
They're just DONE. And they're annoying. We're deep in Tom Owens' thoughts, no, now we're in his daughter's thoughts, no, now where in her mother's thought, oops, over to Owens' girlfriend, and now over to his friend Noah. This isn't just omniscient narrator. This is adrift narrator. Mary, the mother of Owens' daughter Jane, is annoying in a way that doesn't enlighten or even entertain. She doesn't grow as a character, and her daughter doesn't even seem to learn anything from her as a negative example.
I really had difficulty understanding what Owens ever saw in Mary in the first place, given how often we see how intensely drawn he is to perfect simplicity. And there's another failing of the book, that drive, which was signature Jobs in his insistence on elegant style in Apple products, makes no sense whatsoever when remaking him as some sort of biotech mogul. It's always more fun to write a scathing review than a glowing one. Everyone else had similar frustrations with the book and the characters.
I guess I was hoping, even if it didn't get any better, that there would be some cathartic realization for someone, somewhere. There's a happy ending for one of them, and a happy beginning for another, but I can't say I learned anything taking those two hours to finish the last pages.
Not recommended as a literary novel, and not recommended for Steve Jobs fans either. Jul 01, Katherine rated it liked it. Finally, I managed to read a novel! I hope this is a sign of things come. I've been on something of a Steve Jobs tear lately. Simpson is Mr. Jobs' biological sister; the two were raised apart but got to know each other as adults. Simpson has Finally, I managed to read a novel! Simpson has made her protagonist a biogenetical entrepreneur instead of a computer entrepreneur, but pretty much everything is the same, just lightly dusted with fiction: Palo Alto is "Alta," the company is "Genesis" and its spin-off, "Exodus," etc.
Part of the fun for someone who has read the Isaacson biography or otherwise steeped in Steve Jobs lore is spotting all the parallels. Tom Owens throws himself a 30th birthday party very much like the one that Isaacson describes, for example; there's a conventional-thinking manager Owens has hired at Genesis who ends up engineering his ouster from the company; there's a brief romance with a certain college-aged aspiring writer that will sound familiar, and on and on.
The book centers around something else that will sound familiar: Owens' illegitimate daughter, Jane, who is about ten when the book begins and in college when it finishes, clearly has a lot of parallels with Jobs' real-life daughter Lisa. There is a lot of consideration given to the attempts of Jane and the other women in Owens' life—his girlfriend Olivia, Jane's mother Mary, sundry other girlfriends and love interests—to figure out where they stand with this charismatic, enigmatic, careless, charming, frustrating man.
There's a second plotline that deals with a scientist who is friends with Owens and appears to have no obvious real-life parallel in the real-life Jobs universe. The novel also has a bit of a disjointed quality that, at best, feels like an approximation of real life and successfully juggles a large number of characters who stand in a lot of different relationships and interrelationships to each other, and at worst can feel a bit distracted and distracting, like a lack of focus.
There are many beautiful sentences and fine observations. The book is clearly the work of someone with great skill. Some of the scenes conjure unique but persuasive moods, particularly the ones of women waiting around for this powerful and mercurial man, and their shifting alliances and conflicts with each other as they jockey for his unreliable affections.
A Regular Guy
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