Reading O.J. Simpson’s ghostwritten pot-boiler If I Did It is a little like coming home from school to see both of your parents drunk, practicing bondage in your living room. You might be horrified, and you know you’ll never be the same again, but you just can’t look away.

The book  is horrifying in a nutshell — exploitative and obscene. But if you put it down for longer than the time it takes to use the bathroom—for any other reason than unbeatable disgust—you are a testament to humanity’s true weakness in the face of suffering.

Everyone remembers, vaguely, where they were when The Juice was found not guilty in criminal court of the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown. He was later sentenced in civil court, found liable for willfully and wrongfully causing the deaths of Goldman and Brown, and for committing battery with malice and oppression. He was charged some millions of dollars, and left to fade into obscurity until he broke into a casino to steal some sports memorabilia he claimed was his.

So that was the period between the ‘90s and last week.

It’s Goldman’s relatives who are responsible for having the book published at all. After an initial fight to keep the book off the shelves when it was supposed to be published earlier this year, the Goldmans reversed their position with the intention that everyone who reads the book will be convinced of Simpson’s guilt.

The Goldman family’s quest to keep the book off the shelves is discussed in a lengthy introduction (titled He Did It), saying that the royalty money from the publication was to be funneled to a sham corporation "operated" by Simpson’s children. The Goldman family bought the rights to the book after the sham nature of the corporation was discovered, and decided to publish Simpson’s original manuscript with their preface, a preface written by the ghostwriter (Pablo F. Fenjves) and an afterward written by a judge.

This turns O.J.’s original manuscript — which was purported by Simpson himself to have started out as a fictional account — into a weird sort of dialogue, or debate, between two distinct visions of the truth.

The three bookends to The Juice’s manuscript each ring out the same tune: He did it, we know he did it, we’re all disgusted and aren’t you? And going into the book, you either agree or you don’t.

That’s not the point: the point is to hear from our generation’s most famous killer since Aileen Wuornos. This is the Juice’s side of the story, billed by Fenjves as his final confession. Consider If I Did It O.J.’s “Monster.” We get to see how the killing started: girl trouble.

Yes, girlfriend troubles. The first hundred pages of the book are O.J.’s account of his torrid romance with Nicole Brown, from its dreamy beginnings to its bloodsoaked end. With no one to contradict him, and a ghostwriter who seems to have written the book verbatim from his subject’s own rambling narrative, Simpson makes her out to be a schizophrenic, dangerously unstable, needy, hairpin-turn kind of nutjob girlfriend, with whom O.J. spent nearly two decades before finally snapping and butchering her and an innocent bystander.

It’s this tale which is almost as morally repugnant as the act itself, but actually the real reason I simply could not put it down. O.J. Simpson’s catastrophically mundane troubles and almost touching confusion in the face of this woman he cheated on his wife to be with one week into her 18th year, is the perfect celebrity-tragedy story for our time.

I mean, come on, you’re not getting Romeo and Juliet here. This book is trashy celebrity romance, a tabloid tell-all written by a failed National Enquirer writer.
It’s beach reading for those of you with no shame at all. It’s kind of fun to wallow in The Juice’s whining.

Until you remember that it’s all just excuses and half-ass justification for why he killed his ex-wife and an innocent bystander.

Is it a narrative of quality? Not at all. Even with the Goldman family’s moralistic cautionary tale taped to the front of the original manuscript, the book still serves no purpose other than to shock. The Goldman family turns O.J. into a monster outright, and O.J. turns himself into a monster accidentally.

By the end of the narrative the whole sordid thing is just exhausting. Whether you agree with the Goldman family or Simpson, you’re going to finish reading and need a hot shower.

About The Author

Steven H. Bagley is a Blast correspondent

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