The latest stop on Jessica Simpson’s book tour is Glamour, for which they did a moving digital cover (as in, actually in motion, not touching) taking her from fully made-up to a scrubbed-clean version of herself. The above is the press image that Glamour distributed, which is in a limbo between the two ends of the spectrum; it reminds me so much of when years ago GFY Jessica would say that, at the next Conclave of the Jessicas, she’d need to have a word with J.Simp about how her mouth is always hanging open in magazine photographs. Some things do not change. There is a frame at the end of the motion cover where her lips are closed and it’s a lot better than this one, in which Jessica appears to have seen herself for the first time and is startled by it. I actually think the motion cover is quite good — you’ll have to click to see it, as I couldn’t embed it, which is good for Glamour’s business — and this is an unnerving substitute. (I should also note that calling this THE HONESTY ISSUE has the unfortunate effect of indirectly implying the other 10 or 11 issues of the year are THE BULLSHIT FILES.)
The story is half written by Samantha Barry and then half done from Jessica’s point of view; I’m not clear whether they’re excerpts from the book or an interview, because they’re framed as “Jessica’s guide to life” and have bolded first-person statements with explications underneath. It’s okay, but the chapter they published from Open Book is better. You can see the hand of a ghostwriter in there (My daughter Maxwell is six and my son Ace is five, and they have the kind of energy that needs to be burned off outdoors or it will just add up like a bill that needs to be paid at the end of the night), but plenty of it sounds like she does (For me, sitting down here with a piece of paper and a pen is like, “Hello, self! What are we gonna confront tonight?). As a side note, I have no idea whether Jessica Simpson did or did not use a ghost writer, and I don’t look down on anyone who does — but I wish those that did would admit it. Having help doesn’t invalidate anyone’s experiences. Not everyone with a story to tell automatically knows how to get it on paper or shape it; that is a skill of its own, and it’d be absurd to think every soul who’s written a memoir never had help. So I wish those people got more of their due. ** Per the comments, the first page of the book itself does say she wrote it “with” a credited person, so that’s good. It wasn’t on the Amazon page and I’ve not heard him given his due anywhere else, so maybe legally that’s all she had to do, I don’t know.
ANYWAY. Reading the excerpt made me think of a time when I covered the tenth anniversary of Jessica’s clothing line at Fashion Week. The event was a bit of a mess, to say the least. What we didn’t include in the story is that, and I say this non-judgmentally, Jessica seemed tipsy at best throughout. It was worrisome. Reading her excerpt makes me wonder if I was correct in that instinct. However, even with what a clusterfiasco that event turned out to be, she made good on her promise to talk to every single person who showed up for her, even if it was hours later than it was meant to be. And if she was tipsy, well, good on her for also still being friendly and warm and making me feel like she cared about the questions I was asking and the answers she was giving. That’s hard for some people to do even when they are stone-cold sober and the line of eager interviewers is much shorter. I came away from that really liking her and quietly rooting for her, hoping that she hadn’t written her last metaphorical chapter in her career — and as it turns out, she eventually churned out these actual ones. I suspect I am going to read them.