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The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams Hardcover – October 4, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; First Edition edition (October 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618048928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618048922
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,471,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The language and form of this searing book are as powerful as the life experience that inspired them. In a series of essays that cohere into a spiritual autobiography, the author writes prose that's deceptively simple yet rich in metaphor. An wild horse living in the parking lot of a Navajo school becomes a symbol for living creatures' intrinsic wildness, tamed only at a terrible cost. "We are all runaway horses" is one constant refrain, as is the reminder "you are your history." The author's history is painful: born in 1950 the son of an alcoholic Native American woman and a white cowboy father who "would sell my mom to other migrant men for five dollars," Nasdijj grew up a "mongrel" and an outcast, contending with his violent father's demons while his mother beguiled them with Indian stories. Living on a reservation, never fully accepted because of his white skin, he adopted a baby boy with fetal alcohol syndrome who died at age 6. The book's most beautiful passages meditate on Tommy Nothing Fancy's short life and express his father's love. Nasdijj has been homeless, he has taught Indian children on a reservation, he has retraced with a historian friend the dreadful forced march to Bosque Redondo, where the Navajo and their culture were nearly exterminated. These and many other ordeals are related in the agonizingly lucid words of someone who has turned to writing as a lifeline. This remarkable memoir has its share of bitterness and anger, but Nasdijj transcends both in his acceptance of the world that made him and in the knowledge that "the reservation runs like blood through a river of my dreams." --Wendy Smith

From Publishers Weekly

The yearning to write, muses this irrepressible Native American author, "was the epitome of perversity, because reading and writing were such tortures for me." Born in 1950 on the Navajo Reservation to migrant workersDa Navajo mother and a white, cowboy fatherDNasdijj has always suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, which has made his 20 years as a journalist for Southwest smalltown newspapers, like everything else in his peripatetic, sometimes harrowing life, a terrible struggle. But for Nasdijj, writing was necessary to survival, a means of remembering and vindicating his personal and ancestral history. The symbols he molds out of the bleakness of the desert or his own emotional terrain, as well as the variations of the book's title, trail through 20 fragmented chapters like a plangent refrain. These elements cohere into a unique voice, whether Nasdijj is recounting his adventures on the periphery of white America, musing over the continued impoverishment of the Navajo, or lamenting the loss of his adopted son, Tommy Nothing Fancy, who died when he was six years old from fetal alcohol syndrome. Balancing a propensity to overanalyze his life in deliriously lyric passages with a gift for understatement that can yield more lucid revelations, Nasdijj reveals a great sensitivity to epiphanies wherever they may be found: in the wild stallions of the mesa, in the beautiful face of a troubled teen he mentors, in the bittersweet vandalism of a jingoistic statue of a Spanish conquistador. Agent, Heather Schroder, ICM. (Oct.) Forecast: Nasdijj first attracted attention when the title piece ran in Esquire in June 1999; he was subsequently named a finalist for a National Magazine Award. Already selected by several newspapers for fall preview roundups and early reviews, this haunting memoir is likely to garner widespread review coverage and, consequently, a solid audience that will be further enlarged by a six-city author tour.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I read this book in one sitting - unable to put it down.
Erika Borsos
Unfortunately, it has been made abundantly clear that Tommy Nothing Fancy never had FAS, never died, indeed, never existed.
Rookie
The author is a poet at heart and his words are beautiful, evocative and haunting.
Christine Witkowski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Tim on January 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
It's such a shame that this book turned out to be a work of total fiction. The author's real name is Timothy Barris. He was raised in a middle class home in Michigan. This is worse than the hoax perpetrated by James Frey since Barris uses the identity with the Navaho to garner empathy.

By the way, the name Nasdijj has no meaning at all in the Navaho language. Nothing less than a full apology is due the Navaho people from this imposter.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Rookie on January 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, it has been made abundantly clear that Tommy Nothing Fancy never had FAS, never died, indeed, never existed. Also, Nasdijj's mother was not pimped out, was not a drunk, and was not Navajo. It seems that Nasdijj's life, as chronicled here, simply didn't happen.

This book is seemingly full of poignancy, beautiful prose, and maybe even "agonizingly lucid" passages, but it is also apparently devoid of truth.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Files on January 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Entire book is a work of fiction, with many passages lifted from other authors' work. What made this book good, was knowing that Nasdijj experienced these events. Now, it is just a very poor work of fiction. After doing some research, "Nasdijj" turned out to be nothing more than a failed gay erotica writer with a jealous tint and a short temper. The previous life as a gay erotica writer shines through periodically in this book and adds a bitter tangent to a mundane piece.

Get a life man; your own, preferably.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By L. Woods on March 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It's a shame that because of works like this, not to mention the Forrest Carter (Education of Little Tree) scandal a few years back, many unknown and undiscovered--but authentic--Native American writers will probably have to struggle that much harder to become published. Well-established American Indian authors are already naturally suspect of any newcomers on the scene; the sad fact is that for some reason Native American culture and identity is misappropriated by more misguided white writers--whatever their individual agendas might be--than any other race or ethnic group. The sad truth is that, for every Forrest Carter and Timothy Barris who manage to secure a publishing contract, there are dozens of truly deserving Native voices that are going unheard.And thanks to these imposters making the buying public- as well as agents and editors- increasingly suspicious of anyone claiming to be Native American-their chances to be read and heard are only going to diminish.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I haven't read any of "Nasdijj"'s writings, and I don't expect to do so, but as a REAL Amerind (Cherokee), I am disturbed and indignant at Navajos being used as a publicity hook by a white sado-masochist. Don't take my word for it. Read an exhaustive exposé at

[...] option=com_lawcontent&task=view&id=12468&Itemid=47
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Thomas, PhD, Asst Prof, Indiana University on October 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
While viewing books in a bookstore in Boise, ID, Nasdijj's memoir caught my eye. The title drew me in, since I am a poet. The first chapter made me sit down. Chapter three brought me to tears, as he writes of Mariano Lake, which is home. I am Navajo and live next to the school. The wild horses Nasdijj wrote about are my uncles'. They are still there, running and creating dreams and fantasies in boys' eyes. And the goats and sheep are my grandmother's, my mother's and mine, they still graze around the school and in the baseball field. The school officials always tell us not to graze them there, but we tell them the goats were there before we permitted the school to be built. They leave us and the goats alone now, until new administrators arrive. My grandmother (the old lady in the book) died September 11th. My mother took her place with the goats and sheep.
I read the whole book in the bookstore, then I bought it. Now, the children in Mariano Lake are reading the book. I have to send five new copies, soon. Nasdijj has literally painted a picture of my community and Navajo life, in general, with words which is hard to do. This book is more than a treasure. The simple sight of it reminds me of home, with Nasdijj's empowering colorful words.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By JC on January 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this book last year, and was moved by it, though I often found it rather fuzzy on certain details, and the chronology seemed to jump around. Now, I learn this guy is a total FRAUD: He's not Indian and Tommy didn't exist. He's apparently lazy, too: I've read that his descriptions of Navajo culture don't fit with reality, either. This is disgraceful, both his lying about his heritage, and inventing this sick child, as well as the other people he made up. What a waste of time.

So many literary frauds have been exposed this month (Jan 06). Now, I'm wondering about a few other memoirs that have been popular the last few years. I'm rather disinclined to buy any memoirs these days; and I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way. I bet these scandals hurt sales of this book genre.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this whole book in a day- it was one of the richest reading experiences I have ever had. The author has an ability to say so much with few words; he has an amazing talent. He writes about his childhood with a white, cowboy father and a Native American mother, the difficult life they led on the road, the death of his adopted son- Tommy Nothing Fancy- from fetal alcohol syndrome, and his pursuit of the writing life. Even though there were moments that I was reduced to tears, he writes with warmth and humor that don't leave you overwhelmed. This is a FANTASTIC book. Read it!!
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