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Geronimo's Bones: A Memoir of My Brother and Me Hardcover – March 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345453913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345453914
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,431,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nasdijj (The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping) juggles sardonic anger and full-out hilarity in his lyrical memoir of two Native American boys fighting to survive the harsh, oppressive world of a Navajo reservation and countless migrant camps in the 1950s. The sons of an alcoholic Navajo mother and a brutal white father, Nasdijj and Tso used reading to while away the long hours between camps, but later became apprentice criminals, stealing books to satisfy their thirst for knowledge. After alcoholism killed the boys' mother, their father suffered an emotional collapse, leaving the boys homeless. Later, together again, the boys fell victim to their father's nightly sexual assaults, which Nasdijj poignantly recounts: "I kept the memories of his arrivals, his demented craving for that human touch and companionship he never had in the real world, only in the world of our warm beds, as secrets locked forever within a tomb, mine mainly, knowing in my heart that if the tomb were ever opened... not only would my universe implode, but my chances of ever being really loved by my father would be nonexistent." Through illness, poverty and racism, Nasdijj found strength in his people's culture, especially in the myth of the warrior Geronimo, until he and Tso finally escaped their father's tyranny and the cruelty of the crime-ridden camps for gritty adventures on the open road. Nasdijj's observations on his and Tso's arduous quest for redemption and independence are detailed, smart and clever. While Nasdijj's writing is frank and funny, he never fails to target the heart, even when writing about the most painful events.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Nasdijj's childhood was a far cry from the middle-class suburban picture we have of the 1950s and early 1960s. The child of a white man and a Navajo woman, Nasdijj and his brother, Tso (for The Smart One), moved from migrant camp to migrant camp. The boys' mother is caring, but her alcoholism chips away at her life until she is found dead one morning, frozen to death in a ditch, when Nasdijj is seven. Their sadistic, abusive father, who used to beat them and their mother, goes from horrible to far, far worse, beating and raping the boys repeatedly. It is the boys' deep bonds of brotherhood and love that allow them to survive a childhood that to most is unimaginable. Though Nasdijj admits the book is somewhat "disjointed and hard," it possesses the same range of emotions: anger, hurt, love, passion, as well as the beautiful, raw, emotional writing that characterized his previous memoirs, The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping (2003) and The Blood Runs Like a River through My Dreams (2000). The agony of his experiences is juxtaposed with the unbreakable bond he shares with his brother; many will find this pain-filled memoir hard to read, but those who do will see in it the depths of Nasdijj's strength and the love he has for his brother. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Wolf on January 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book may be powerful, but readers need to know that the story is not a memoir. Indeed, it is not even nonfiction. As recent reviewers have noted, Nasdijj has been unmasked as a white man who previously wrote gay porn. This book--like other works by Nasdijj--is basically a novel, marketed as a "true story."

There is--or should be--a contract between readers and writers so that readers know what they are buying and how much of what they are reading is actually true. Sure, genres overlap and the rules are fuzzy. A reader has one set of expectations for a work of history that adheres to academic standards and a different set of expectations for a memoir or autobiography by a Hollywood star. Ben Franklin probably fudged things a little in his AUTOBIOGRAPHY; James Frey made up a whole lot of stuff in A MILLION LITTLE PIECES.

Publishers need to be more careful about what they publish and how they promote their books. Obviously, scrupulous fact-checking is a thing of the past, but Frey's "memoir" is full of totally unbelievable incidents, and Nasdijj's work was questioned by respected Native American authors and academics before it was published.

That is not to say that works like A MILLION LITTLE PIECES or GEROMINO'S BONES are totally without merit as pieces of writing. But they are not memoir. They are not history. And they are not nonfiction. They are novels, and it is unfortunate that they were not presented and marketed (by their authors and publishers) more honestly.

Readers beware. We need to learn from this lesson. As readers, we are moved by stories--that is good--but we need to know whether or not those stories are "true" because that does affect how we respond to a writer's work.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Hamilton on September 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Navajo poet Nasdijj has produced another triumph in his latest memoir, Geronimo's Bones: A Memoir of My Brother and Me. Although the writer's earlier works centered on his adopted children, in this new book Nasdijj explores his own abusive past and that of his brother, Tso.

There's no polite way to put this: Nasdijj and his brother were repeatedly raped and beaten by their father over a period of several years after their mother died. Nasdijj frequently emerged from these confrontations with broken bones that, he indicates, are to blame for a painful bone disease that threatens his life now that he is in his 50s. This cycle of abuse took place within the context of poverty, hunger and instability. A migrant worker, Nasdijj's father moves his family every few weeks. A chronic alcoholic, he rarely gets around to shopping for food or cooking for his boys. Other migrants are too scared to report the abuse to the authorities. And the arm of the law isn't long enough, apparently, to catch up with a migrant child molester.

Geronimo's Bones is loosely woven around the brothers' daring escape from their father. At ages 13 and 14, they pick their father's pocket of several thousand dollars, steal a Corvette from a chop shop and drive it to California. One of their first stops is a House of Pancakes where they pick up a 16-year-old girl who is also running away from home. Her driver's license facilitates their journey since she can legally drive and can check them into motels along the way.

Their journey is not told in a straight line, however. Nasdijj deliberately fragments his story, going back and forth in time, slipping years ahead without warning.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By RW on January 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I don't have an critical opinion of this book, but I think it would be extremely depressing to read. I did read an online article from the LA Weekly that raises questions about the authors authenticity, and just wanted to pass that along. This may be a fictional book writen by a white. [...]
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By G. Pillson on January 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
....since the author is apparently a brotherless non-Native American named Tim Barrus (look him up -- his other works might surprise you). See the LA Weekly's story "Navahoax", available online....
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