"It Should Have Been Called 'American Dirtbag'"

The xoJane.com Trashy Book Club is now in session! We're joined by reader Amy From Atlanta for our discussion of Jesse James' "American Outlaw." Find out how you can be next.
Publish date:
June 8, 2011
jesse james, jesse james american outlaw, xoJane.com trashy book club

Hey! So remember last week when we announced that Jesse James' "American Outlaw" would be the first book of The xoJane.com Trashy Book Club? No? That's okay.*

One week later, and some of us read it cover-to-cover (Anya and Emily, aka THE NERDS) and some of us did not (JANE and CAT!!!!!).

We were also joined on speakerphone Amy Burton, a.k.a. Amy From Atlanta, a reader who so impressed us with her encyclopedic knowledge of trashy books that she won her very own copy of this one. Read below for the discussion.

*However, if you want to join the next session of The xoJane.com Trashy Book Club, you'll need to prove you read this one. Leave a comment with some detail only a reader of this book would know, and you'll be the next member on a speakerphone.


Setting: The xoJane.com Editorial Offices, New York City

In attendance: Amy From Atlanta, Jane, Emily, Anya, Cat, and non-member Eric [who just wanted to hang out with us]

Act I: Do We Look Cute?

Cat [to Amy From Atlanta]: This is the beauty editor -- Jane is looking really good with a natural wave to her hair, and some tortoise shell glasses that really fit her face.

Jane: They're trying to make me feel better because I didn't take time to put any makeup on or anything.

Emily: Amy, are you wearing makeup?

Amy From Atlanta: Yes I am.

Eric: She's from Atlanta!

Act II: In Which We Get Down To The Book

Emily: Wow, Jane, you have notes in the margin?

Jane: Well, for the part I actually read I thought I should write down notes. But it was late at night and now I can't read my own handwriting.

Act III: In Which We Take Down Jesse's Ghost Writer

[Amy From Atlanta later found the line: "'We were pillars of decency in an otherwise shitty adult world, one riddled with deception, neglect, and high sodium food products.' That's when we realize yes, I think he had quite a light hand in the creation."]

Act IV: Maybe We Should Have Called It The xoJane.com Trashy Book Pictures Club

Emily: How many times did you flip to the middle and look at the pictures?

Cat: So many times.

Anya: That's the best part.

Jane: Part of the reason I didn't read the whole thing was because I like to skim for the parts that I'm interested in, and I didn't care about his childhood and all that. Who cares?

Emily: That's the part that's supposed to make you feel sorry for him.

Anya: But did it need to take this much of the book? [Clutching half the book.]

Emily: I will say that I did feel bad for him once while reading this, and it was when his Dad sends the hooker over when he's like 12, and I was like, "OK that's really messed up, no wonder he has issues."

Cat: It's a little sexy. Also, can we talk about the self-portrait photograph he took of himself in rehab? The narcissism that just radiates from the page almost like kryptonite it kills me.

Act V: Is He Or Is He Not A Sex Addict?

Jane: OK, my understanding from not reading the book was that when he went into rehab he released this really nice statement that made me think that he was a sex addict and was getting sober. I bought it and I was like "OK, he's on a good path." Well, as I was glancing through the book and looking for it, I thought: does he not admit that he's a sex addict?

Emily: It's basically like he went to rehab to get his head together. Maybe Sam Benjamin wrote the PR statement!

ACT VI: The Truth Comes Out

Cat: Here's the thing--I would have been able to forgive him a little bit more if I thought he was sexy in a way I found arousing. But this guy is just not OK with me, I would not kiss him on the mouth. Not that that's my thing anyway.

Emily: Where would you kiss him?

Amy From Atlanta: Eww.

Cat: I would not! I would maybe kiss one of his tattoos, even though they seem very Hep-y.

Emily: I would hard-kiss him on the mouth.

Cat: Yeah, you like that type.

Emily: What about the dedication? [To his children Chandler, Jesse Jr. and Sunny...and "my beloved Katherine."]

Anya: That pissed me off. Lost me at page one.

Jane: Is that Kat Von D [his current fiancee and soon-to-be fourth wife]?

Emily: It's got to be, right?

Jane: Then he doesn't talk about her in the whole book!

Cat: If we're not calling Kate Middleton "Catherine" because that's too much of a stretch, I am not calling Kat Von D "Katherine."

Act VII: We Resent How He Depicts Sandy

Cat: He keeps Sandra Bullock pretty one-note. [Reading from the book] "'You look handsome,' Sandy remarked to me, as we readied ourselves for a red carpet appearance." And then he's all, "'I feel, uh, a bit out of my element'" and "'You're fantastic,' Sandy said, looking deep into my eyes. 'Thank you for coming with me.'" Like, oh thank you!

Anya: I know, the dialogue was the WORST. She's really funny and smart... she's a dynamic person!

Jane: Do you think he tried -- because I was skimming for these parts too -- I thought he tried to make her seem a little bit unexciting, like she was bringing him down, killing his buzz. Like he was trapped.

Emily: He's trapped in their life, their horrible life with all their money.

Jane: Like she wanted to walk on the beach and he was like, "Oh, I wanna go and beat somebody up."

Anya: Like when they're in Cabo, he gets into their Jeep [reading from the book] "As I waited for Sandy, I popped one of my CDs I'd brought into the car stereo. Circle Jerks blasting out at full volume, abrasive and mean. 'All set,' Sandy said, opening the passenger side door and slipping into her seat. 'Hey, wow. That's a bit much for these eardrums. Can you lower the volume, please?'"

Emily: Like, "I'm such a stick in the mud."

Anya: And he writes, "I lowered it. Of course I did. That's what any husband would do for his high-class wife. She wasn't some whore in the back of a Daytona nightclub: she was a lady, with gentler tastes. But in the back of my mind, I couldn't help but feel kind of cheated. It was like I was Huckleberry Finn or something, when Widow Douglas decides to adopt him. They were 'sivilizing' me, and I didn't know how to make them stop."

Cat: Wowww, you don't play the Huckleberry Finn card unless you have true Peter Pan complex. Grow up, Jesse James. Stop calling yourself Jesse James. Is that his name? Is that established?

Emily: Did you read the book?

Cat: Yes! Listen, I read it in chunks. This thing is huge. I had a very important weekend.

Emily: This isn't like "Anna Karenina."

Cat: Well, I read all of "Anna Karenina." Look what happened to her! This is why you have to get away from these bad men. And I'll say that to our readers.

ACT VIII: One Glaring Omission

Anya: He never mentions Louis, the baby he and Sandra adopted right before the whole scandal. How's Louis going to feel about that? Like it wasn't even significant enough to include in the book?

Amy From Atlanta: I think little Louis is going to look back on this and say, "Thank you!" Thank God I'm not associated with this shit.

Jane: But he left out the juiciest part, really, which I skimmed for. The juiciest part of the whole thing. I mean, I didn't want to hear about Sandra Bullock breaking down and shaking when he tells her [about the infidelity.] That's just sad, and that's her personal stuff that he should not be talking about. I don't even feel comfortable sitting here talking about it. But I did want to hear about the shit that got him into the trouble that he had to confess, and he didn't tell about it!

Emily: You know they did weird shit, too!

Jane: You know they did! Men, women...a lot of stuff was going on.

Emily: Farm animals.

Act IX: The Moral Of The Story

Amy From Atlanta: Do you think deep down he really thinks that he did something wrong?

Jane: It doesn't sound like it from the parts I skimmed.

Cat: I think it's a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This guy is a Disorganized Personality. I think its a lot of pathology in here, and I don't think he will ever feel remorse, even if he wasn't born a narcissist, it's Acquisitional Situational Narcissism.

Jane: Amy, what do you think?

Amy From Atlanta: I agree wholeheartedly. It should have been called "American Dirtbag."

And scene.