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All About Faye : NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON, By Faye D. Resnick (Dove Books: $14.95)

January 22, 1995|DAVID EHRENSTEIN | David Ehrenstein is a regular contributor to Book Review

Shifting back and forth in time from Nicole Brown's funeral to events that took place months before the double murders, the book features colorful views of both the accused murderer ("blatantly urinating in my presence and cursing the mother of his children with a vengeance I'd never heard from anyone! I fled the ladies' room") and the more famous of the two victims ("Nicole stopped suddenly, bent down and picked up a chunk of driftwood. She held it out in front of her and said, 'This is the size of Marcus Allen.' ") But the true center of "Private Diary's" attention isn't the double murder, it's Faye Resnick.

"How can I describe the intensity of my relationship with Nicole, particularly toward the end?" Faye asks. Well, "All About Eve" certainly comes to mind. As she gushes on about how "we had become more than friends," those versed in the Joseph L. Mankiewicz classic will find it hard to chase away the image of Anne Baxter in the dressing room scene. Rather than providing a voice for a woman no longer able to speak for herself, Resnick is an understudy who has usurped the role of a permanently indisposed star. Every bit of what the book has to say about Nicole is filtered through Faye.

"I'm aware there are women who don't enjoy sex, but I'm not among them. And neither was Nicole," notes the "Diary" as it ticks off the countless coffee-sipping hours these merry ex-wives of Brentwood spent ogling the young men ("we called them the Starbucks boys") they planned to "do"--"the euphemism in our circle for a sexual encounter." Still, the book claims, while Brown often put her "superb body" to sexual use, she was "adamantly opposed to infidelity." Nothing if not paradoxical, Nicole, according to Resnick and Walker, felt that only vaginal penetration qualified as "cheating."

"As someone who works hard at being a good mother, I know one when I see one," Faye sniffs primly at one point. Yet in spite of her uncanny ability to recall detailed conversations with "Nic," Faye is much less forthcoming about her own drug and alcohol problems, which suddenly loom large in the book's last quarter, when Brown and her friends force Resnick to enter a rehab clinic. But can anyone really blame her for this oversight? With the estranged couple phoning her day and night ("O.J . . . every time I talk to you lately, all I ever hear about is me, me, me!"), Faye begins to take on the aspect of the heroine of Henry James' "What Maisie Knew"--a child caught in a custody dispute.

"I can't be here, Nicole," Faye wails, worried about entering the "Exodus" drug recovery program while "Nic's" ex is making violent threats. "I'm losing my head. I'm going out of my mind. I can't let myself stay in this terrible world you're trapped in."

"Remember, we'll have lots of coffee," says Nicole, bidding Faye what she thought would be a brief goodby at the rehab door. But the farewell (eerily reminiscent of Bogart's "We'll always have Paris" to Bergman in "Casablanca") proved to be permanent.

"I know that I told her I loved her," Resnick recalls tremulously. "I've thought a lot about this conversation and have actually attempted to undergo hypnosis to make sure there was no tiny detail I didn't remember." As the immortal Thelma Ritter said (to cite "All About Eve" one last time), "What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds yapping at her rear end."

Yes, indeed, "Private Diary" has "everything"--in a way that makes its rivals in the pop biography field--"Michael Jackson Unauthorized," Princess in Love," "Songs My Mother Taught Me," et al.--seem milquetoast by comparison. It may not get far in an actual courtroom (you can almost hear the whiny purr of defense counsel Gerald Uelman raising objections while you read), but when it comes to the all-important court of public opinion, the weak tea of objectivity just won't do when you can have . . . coffee.

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