The O.J. Simpson murder case captivated America for the better part of a year and a half back in the mid 90s. I still remember when I first heard about it and my boss at the time asked me “do you think they’re going to send O.J. to the gallows?” For as much hyper-saturated news coverage as we got from the murder and the subsequent trial, I’ve found that I really haven’t retained all that many of the details. I remember the bloody glove, Mark Fuhrman, Marcia Clark and “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” but since I didn’t really follow the case on a daily basis – I was in college at the time, in my last year of pharmacy school – it always seemed like the fuzzy mess of details that I just didn’t quite care about that enough to assemble all the pieces. The world may never know for certain what happened that night, even though we all have our own ideas of what happened.
I’ve always kind of wanted to read If I Did It, the book that Simpson wrote after his acquittal that “hypothetically” spelled out how he would have committed the murders. I didn’t realize how much behind-the-scenes drama there was around getting the book published. Outrage from the family of Ron Goldman resulted in the book being cancelled. It was only published after the Goldman family obtained the publishing rights, at which point they released the book, stating they considered it Simpson’s confession.
Surprisingly, only one chapter of the book deals in Simpson’s hypothetical involvement in the murder. The rest of the book tells the story of his relationship with Nicole Brown Simpson, his second wife and the mother of two of his children. To hear Simpson tell it, their seven year marriage was marked by Nicole’s wild mood swings, so much so that he often felt like there were “two Nicoles.” Their separation was, according to Simpson, her idea and he worked hard to achieve reconciliation. Only after their divorce was final did Nicole decide that she wanted O.J. back, leading to a year-long trial period where they were back together but didn’t live in the same house. This trial period was ultimately not successful.
It’s hard to know what to make of this book. If Simpson did, in fact, commit the murders and is lying about it, it seems to me that everything he says in the book is suspect. But if this IS his confession (an assertion that Simpson vehemently denies), then perhaps some, if not most, of this account is valid. Then again, if this is his confession, perhaps he’s willfully distorting the story of his relationship with Nicole in order to somehow justify the murder? Who knows? The whole thing is really a huge cluster. The drama in his life made me cringe. Never did I appreciate my simple life more than when I was reading this book.
I felt like If I Did It was a good read, especially for those of us that lived through the “trial of the century.” It was quick and easy reading and O.J.’s ghost writer captured his voice well – even though sometimes I thought he came off looking like an incredible douchebag – so entitled and elite, dropping names all the time as if I was supposed to be impressed that he knew all these famous people. At the end of the book, I still wasn’t sure if O.J. killed his former wife and her friend, but as the Magic 8 Ball might say, “all signs point to yes.”