Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: IF I DID IT by OJ Simpson

A curious book to review, given that its context is just as important, if not more so, than its content. Published by the Goldman family after a protracted legal wrangle that wrested the rights away from Simpson, IF I DID IT (subtitled: Confessions of the Killer) purports to be an empowering document for victims of crime everywhere, with the Goldman family arguing that it was inevitable this book would be published, and that the salaciousness of its content is ameliorated by the fact that the proceeds from its sale will go to the Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice. In fact, once the Goldmans obtained the rights, there was no need to publish, and they’ve done so against the wishes of the Brown family; and only 10% of the proceeds are going to the Foundation for Justice, the rest being off-set against the monies Simpson owes the family since the civil case judgement. As for the body of the book, in which OJ Simpson offers an unnecessarily detailed history of his relationship with Nicole Brown, there’s a compelling narrative buried deep beneath his self-serving attempts to transfer the burden of guilt for the events of the fateful night onto her shoulders. Think third-rate Jim Thompson redrafted by a very drunk Gil Brewer and you’re halfway there: Simpson, in his own words and courtesy of fine work by ghost-writer Pablo F. Fenjves, come across as a nastily self-absorbed narcissist and makes for a classic unreliable narrator, albeit without the charm you might expect from a fictional creation. The crucial chapter, in which Simpson hypothesises about what might have happened had he been there on the fateful night, is grotesque given that it’s the only time in the entire narrative when he strays into hypothesis, while elsewhere insisting that he is the only person who can tell the story as he’s the only one who knows the facts. In fact, the crucial chapter is a double cheat on the unsuspecting reader: not only does Simpson momentarily absolve himself from the responsibility of telling the truth, he offers only a crude ‘black-out’ coping mechanism when confronted with the horrendous moment when Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman were butchered. The only person to emerge with any credit is Ron Goldman, who merits a very brief mention as a Good Samaritan trapped in the wrong place at the wrong time – albeit, and most significantly, by the wrong person. In a word? Tacky. – Declan Burke

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