By: O.J. Simpson, Pablo F. Fenjves, Dominick Dunne, The Goldman Family
Rating: 2/5 Stairs
(The part by O.J. is really 1/5 stairs, but the Goldman Family introduction and the prologue by ghostwriter Pablo F. Fenjves brings it up to 2 stairs.)
It was hard for me to read this mystifying book by O.J. Simpson, although it is so in his character to have become involved in a crooked scheme to make money on his murders and at the same time defraud the Goldman family of the money the civil trial awarded them.
Dominick Dunne, Afterword
I’m sure many of you heard of (and possibly watched) the recent FX TV series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. I started watching and was completely sucked in once again to the Simpson murder trial. (More on that when I review Jeffrey Toobin’s The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.)
After finishing Mr. Toobin’s interesting book, I decided to give If I Did It a try. In this book, O.J. talks about what might have happened the night his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and bystander Ron Goldman were killed. Not that he did it, no. But just what could have happened that night. It’s a very bizarre premise. I had heard about this book when it was released in 2007, but I had never picked it up. And now in reading it, I’ve done you a favor – trust me, you can skip this book.
Here’s what I found interesting:
- The Goldman family’s introduction on how they acquired the rights to this book (and the schemes O.J. used to try and hide the fact that he himself would be profiting on the murders) was interesting. The Goldman’s are seeking justice for their son Ron the only way they can – they were awarded millions of dollars during the civil trial, and O.J. promptly moved to Florida where he was protected from having to pay the Goldman’s a dime. The Goldman’s take us through their battle to prevent O.J. from not only avoiding paying them, but profiting on their son and brother’s murder.
- Ghostwriter Pablo F. Fenjves’ prologue was the most intriguing part of the book. Mr. Fenjves has an interesting connection to the case – he lived behind Nicole’s house, and on that fateful night he heard the anguished howling of her dog after the murders, testifying for the prosecution during the trial. Mr. Fenjves writes about meeting with O.J. to write “his side” of the story, writing the book in O.J.’s voice. (It is interesting to note that in this book, the reprint of O.J.’s “suicide note” has been significantly edited from the original to correct spelling and grammar.) He talks about how he got O.J. to reluctantly talk about “that night” (which had been the whole selling point for the book and writing advance to O.J.), the editing process and O.J.’s approvals, and then finally O.J. throwing Mr. Fenjves under the bus once the Goldman’s got the rights to the book draft, with O.J. insisting that he didn’t say or approve any of the statements made regarding the night of the murders.
As for O.J.’s book itself, as Mr. Dunne notes, it was difficult to read. O.J. sets out to tell the tale of his and Nicole’s “love story.” Of course O.J. is pretty wonderful and understanding, while Nicole is bossy, pushy, and abusive. Later on after their divorce he portrays Nicole as emotionally unstable, and possibly abusing drugs. (Of course he makes no move to get custody of his two children, allowing them to live with their unstable, druggie mother. But I digress.)
The night of the murders (chapter title: “The Night in Question”) he chooses to speculate that a second person might have been there (although Mr. Fenjves states in the prologue he never believed that, but the use of the premise got O.J. to start talking). As I read the chapter, I almost felt like O.J. was projecting a piece of his sub-conscience out into the character of “Charlie,” allowing an inner dialog to become a conversation between two people. The chapter was bizarre, as the first half was told in an if I did do it, here’s what might have gone down style, but then once he gets to Chicago, now he’s in the hotel and recounting events that happened as fact, there is no longer speculation. He does not actually go into details of the murders, but conveniently blacks out, becoming aware of his surroundings minutes later, covered in blood, wondering what happened. For what it’s worth, the Goldman’s felt his writing of Ron’s actions at the scene sounded accurate, and Mr. Fenjves felt that O.J. shared some details and answered questions in a way that indicated his guilt.
I wasn’t going to write this long of a review on this, but now I’ve managed to hit the highlights and you really don’t need to read the book. You’re welcome. If you do pick it up, just read the Goldman’s introduction, Mr. Fenjves prologue, and Mr. Dunne’s afterword. They are the only worthwhile bits to get insight to the victims and their killer.