As a true crime author I read true crime books at a dangerous rate. This was one I held off on initially. It felt ooky getting a book by Simpson, a man I felt skated justice. I write about cold cases and with me it is always about the surviving victims. I knew deep in my heart that OJ was not going to tell the truth about what happened on June 12, 1994. I also remembered the controversy surrounding this book…how the publisher hadn’t expected the backlash, fired the editor and retracted the project. The fact they were surprised by the public reaction is stunning itself and demonstrated nothing but insensitivity to the surviving family members. Douchebags.
This book was a surprise. First, it is two books. One is the ghostwritten manuscript that OJ originally planned to publish. Second is the story about how the Goldman family struggled to wrestle this book from OJ’s grasp and how he had set it up as a scam to pilfer the profits and evade their civil suit’s settlement. This part appears at the start and end of the books, a wrapper of words that provide some context around this literary work.
On the first part – OJ’s confession, one word comes to mind, “yawn.” This is less of a confession and more of a trip into the psyche of a narcissistic maniac that brutally murdered two people. Yes, there a parts of this where I believe he is sharing new facts that only he could have known as the killer. They are few and far between. Simpson creates a second character that was present and responsible for the murders – sort of. It is bizarre at best. I’m sure some psychology major will write a thesis on him from this book.
What disturbed me the most was the fact that OJ never assumed responsibility for anything related to his ex-wife. He only hit her once. He dismisses the photographs of her abuse as fabrications on her part. He paints her as a druggie, a woman of loose morals, and a bad parent. Her diary? That had to be a fabrication as well. The manuscript portions of the book deflect everything to either the police framing him, altering transcripts, or Nichole’s delusions. Even when confronted with transcripts of what he said, he simply lies. I don’t think that Nichole was some saint, but at no point does he seem to embrace her as a tragic murder victim. Ron Goldman is barely mentioned by OJ. This part of the manuscript is mostly a vain attempt to recast Nichole in a negative light…as if killing her was not enough.
In short, by writing this OJ Simpson only validated everything I ever thought about him.
Now, the rest of the book – positioned in the text at the beginning and at the end, is great stuff. The journey that this book went on and how the Goldman’s got control of it is wonderful. Even the jockeying of Oprah at the time the book was released was fascinating to me. Dominick Dunne’s chapter was great as well. This is what made the book for me. I could have tossed all of the alleged confession out and still would have been entertained. When you read this you are confronted with the internal debate and struggle that Goldman’s went through and the moral issues tied to putting this book on the market. While not a nail-biter, it is the best parts of this book.
It is hard to position this with an outstanding review with OJ’s confession being little more than a self-indulgent masturbation session on his part. Yet against this blemish on society we are given a wonderful story of a family struggling for even a fragment of justice. It is worth reading if only to delve into the bizarro world of OJ’s twisted way of perceiving the crimes and the victims.