Cover image for The blood runs like a river through my dreams : a memoir
The blood runs like a river through my dreams : a memoir
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2000.
Physical Description:
216 pages ; 22 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.8 9.0 75665.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.N3 N26 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E99.N3 N26 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The son of a Native American mother and cowboy father describes life growing up on the harsh fringes of American society and discusses his own adopted son, Tommy Nothing Fancy, a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Author Notes

Nasdijj was born on the Navajo Reservation in 1950. His family were migrant workers, traveling between farms & ranches around the country. He has lived among the Tewa, the Chippewa, the Navajo, & the Mescalero Apache People. Nasdijj has been writing seriously for more than two decades, making ends meet by reporting for small-town papers & teaching; at one point his determination to keep writing led to homelessness, & for a time he lived in a public campground. His first appearance in a major publication did not come until June of 1999, when "Esquire" ran the signature piece for his book, "The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams." Nasdijj's dog's name is Navajo, & he calls his pickup Old Big Wanda. "Nasdijj" is Athabaskan for "to become again." He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

"I write what I see." A simple statement from a complex man. What makes this memoir so very powerful is that both the writing and the seeing are done with such clarity and compassion. Born on the Navajo reservation in 1950 to migrant workers (a Navajo storytelling mother and a white cowboy father), Nasdijj has spent his life on the move. His stories are personal ones but imbued with history and the struggle and survival of people who the dominant white society define as marginal. With strength, purposefulness, maturity, and most of all compassion, Nasdijj writes about the life and death of his son, Tommy Nothing Fancy, their fishing trips, his travails as a committed but unpublished writer, life on the reservation, homelessness, ethnic cleansing in America, love, survival, hope. Illuminating both the comic and the tragic, his writing is a striking blend of "tell it like it is" truths that hit right between the eyes and sensuous, expressive, poetic passages that urgently bid the reader to reread, linger, share, and appreciate. The stories and their implications are heartbreaking; but more importantly, they are heart expanding. --Grace Fill

Library Journal Review

Nasdijj's collection of vignettes about living on society's rough edges originated as an article for Esquire magazine in June 1999 and was subsequently named a National Magazine Award finalist. Much of his first book is set on Southwest Indian reservations, where he grew up as the son of a Native American mother and a white cowboy. Although many subjects are covered, one recurrent and powerful thread is the short life of the author's adopted son, Tommy Nothing Fancy. Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, Tommy died at the age of six after repeated health problems. Nasdijj shares the joys of their relationshipDtheir love of nature and, especially, of fishing together. Powerful in the emotions it evokes and poetic in its descriptions, this book is recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/00.]DKay L. Brodie, of Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Tommy Nothing Fancy was my son. He was a fisherman. My son is dead. I didn't say my adopted son is dead. He was my son. My son was a Navajo. He lived six years. Those were the best six years of my life. The social workers didn't tell me about the fetal alcohol syndrome when they brought my son to the hogan I was living in on the Navajo Nation. Perhaps they didn't know. The diagnosis would come later. As a newborn, Tommy Nothing Fancy looked like any other newborn wrapped in his diaper and his blankies, with his tiny fist in his mouth. . . . I gave him a real Eagle Claw fly-fishing rod. I gave him a trip to Canada, where we went brook-trout fishing. It was the trip of a lifetime. My son kept fidgeting with his tackle because he wanted it to be perfect. Too many things in a man's life are never perfect; his tackle does not have to be one of them. The dog and I drove back to the Navajo Nation that night by ourselves. The shadows of the mountains loomed before us. It took me a long, long time before I could cry, and when I did I thought the universe had ended. First gear is mainly torque. Second gear turns corners. Third gear gets you on the highway. Fourth gear lets you fly. Learning to release him is going to take me some time. Copyright (C) 2000 by Nasdijj Excerpted from The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams by Nasdijj All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1. I Hate Mary Potatop. 1
2. My Son Comes Back to Mep. 16
3. Runaway Horsesp. 21
4. Emergency Landingp. 28
5. Chahash'ohp. 40
6. Reservation Rocks and the Long Walk Homep. 48
7. Tenderloinp. 62
8. To the Drump. 72
9. Half-and-Halfp. 79
10. The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreamsp. 85
11. And the Dreams Come Down Like Thunder in the Rainp. 96
12. On Being Homelessp. 102
13. Michif's Tapep. 120
14. Onate's Footp. 140
15. A Movie Lives Inside My Headp. 157
16. Navajo Rose and the Codetalkerp. 161
17. Go Fishp. 168
18. Invisibilityp. 175
19. Flying Solop. 192
20. My New Wife Is a Teacherp. 211