Inside O.J's 'If I Did It' Memoir

Inside O.J's 'If I Did It' Memoir
AP Photo/Pool, Myung J. Chun, file

So here it is, laid out sweet on the desk, in living color—O. J. Simpson's If I Did It. Newsweek obtained the book's most controversial chapter, but Vanity Fair landed the whole enchilada. What to make of it, that's the rub. Despite its animating anger, it's a book that projects a strange lack of affect, a suave void. It made me think of the movie Sunset Boulevard. There, the tale of murder and jealousy is narrated in one long, rueful flashback by the voice of William Holden's Joe Gillis as he floats dead in the swimming pool, face down in a watery grave of blood and chlorine, crime-scene flashbulbs exploding overhead. If I Did It, a shameless yet ingeniously opaque cock teaser of a cash-in confessional (who knew a book about a double homicide could be so flipping coy?), has none of the creeping-ivy-and-sarcophagus decay of Wilder's classic Hollywood gothic, none of its peekaboo depravity. The Hollywood B-list scene that Simpson bops around in here as a former football great and bit actor in the spoofy Naked Gun series is very suburban, very spruce—a brightly maintained semblance of normality packed with normo leisure activities. Trips to McDonald's in the Bentley. Backyard birthday parties. Benefits for worthy causes and children's recitals. Weekends at Mexican resorts. You know, just hanging out, nothing heavy. No solemn chimpanzee funerals in the backyard, that's for sure. And for cert Simpson's ex-wife Nicole bears no comparison to Gloria Swanson's taloned dragon lady, avoiding direct sunlight as if it would zap her into dust. Nicole is young (barely 18 when she and Simpson first meet in the punk summer of 1977, she a waitress, he a recently separated, recently re-united, still-married horndog), blonde, trim, flashy, and fast on the track—a sexy torpedo of tarnished gold. Yet despite these differences, Sunset Boulevard and If I Did It share the same dead man's float, the same glassy stare. The banal horror of this book—apart from the ghoulish sanctimony of Judith Regan's entrepreneurial gusto that attended it—is that O. J. Simpson professes to open up and, once open, there's nobody home, nobody there, nothing inside. It's a vanishing act in full view.

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