O.J.: more pulp

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When Rupert Murdoch announced last night that he was pulling the plug on O.J. Simpson's sensationalistic If I Did It, it didn't remind us of Little, Brown's suppression of Harvard student and plagiarist Kaavya Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life so much as St. Martin's Press' frantic recall of J.H. Hatfield's Fortunate Son. Don't remember that one? Hatfield's 1999 bio of George W. Bush claimed, among other things, that the President-to-be had been arrested for cocaine possession in 1972 and then used family connections to dodge the charge. When Bush's lawyers came calling, St. Martin's yanked all copies of the book and ordered them to be pulped. Hatfield was quickly discredited: Additional investigations revealed that he had padded his journalistic rsum. And it didn't help when the press learned that he had done time in Texas after being convicted, in 1987, of hiring a hit man to murder his employer.

In any case, Murdoch, like St. Martin's, ditched an author when it started looking like he could lose a lot of money. But this doesn't mean If I Did It won't get published. Fortunate Son did. It was picked up by New York City's edgy Soft Skull Press, which reprinted the book in January 2000 (and published an expanded version in 2001). So don't be surprised if a publisher with the means to distribute and a hankering for attention picks up the Simpson book and runs with it. Like Soft Skull did with Hatfield's book, they might even turn the O.J. tome into a cause: the fight against censorship. Or whatever. If Simpson's book does come out, we still wonder what genre will be printed on the jacket. "False Crime"? "Hypothetical Memoir"?

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