Two weeks ago, we felt really proud that we managed to avoid adding to the media’s repititive over-coverage of the James Frey memoir-hoax story. We figured we’d serve the literary community by talking about anything but James Frey (or J. T. Leroy), and that’s what we did. Imagine our surprise at the new expose of acclaimed Navajo author Nasdijj, which brings the hoax craze into our backyard.
Nasdijj started participating in LitKicks discussions last July, first showing up to respond to a weekly critique of the New York Times Book Review with a post titled “yawn, indeed“. I think we were all glad to see him here and certainly tried to make him feel welcome, but I was slightly peeved when I wrote an article about a favorite book of mine, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, only to have Nasdijj slam me and Charles Frazier in a message that seemed to me more inflammatory than rational.
For the next few weeks, Nasdijj would drop in on conversations and, whatever the original topic was, tie it back to his key themes: white oppression of native Americans, the tragedy of AIDS and the corrupted state of corporate publishing. I’m naturally sympathetic to all these causes, but I also have a litblog to run, and I occasionally sent Nasdijj private or public messages asking him to please try harder to stay on topic. He was clearly a talented writer and a deeply driven soul, and I was hoping we could find some way for him to participate on LitKicks without stomping over discussions that weren’t meant to be about native Americans, AIDS or the corrupted state of corporate publishing. Finally, he stopped showing up, but kept me on his email list, and we exchanged a few halfway-friendly messages late last year.
I sent him an email last night asking if he had a response to the accusations that he is not a native-American at all, and that his critically-acclaimed memoirs should be categorized as literary hoaxes. The email (the same one he’s used for the last year) bounced; the account is apparently closed. He left this message on his blog: "For those seeking Refuge consult the Hyena. Follow those directions to the Old Hotel. To find N, take the stairs to the roof. Bring your medication. The view is magnificent. And safe. You know who you are. Do not answer questions. Sealed. They do not care about you. You know that. Do not be fooled. Someone will. You will connect. Follow the Hyena’s path."
I’m following, but the hyena’s not talking.
Despite his generally hostile personality, I liked Nasdijj’s writing, and I hope he’s doing well, wherever he is. I understand Nasdijj is also involved in some type of recovery/crisis caregiving for AIDS-stricken children, and mostly I hope the kids are not suffering as a result of the latest news.