Last Friday, three days after L.A. Weekly broke its investigation into the true identity of the writer who calls himself Nasdijj, Ballantine announced it would no longer ship copies of Nasdijj’s The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping or Geronomo’s Bones and retailers would be allowed to return copies left on the shelves. “It looks pretty conclusive,” Ballantine spokeswoman Carol Schneider said of the charges against Nasdijj, whose real name is Tim Barrus. The writer apparently agrees — on Saturday, for the first time, Barrus signed his real name to a blog posting. He has since removed his byline.
Meanwhile, an email seen by L.A. Weekly suggests that Barrus is already attempting to parlay his newfound notoriety into a tell-all memoir. In an ironic twist, he calls the new work a novel. The email, addressed to an editor at Penguin, appears to have originated from Nasdijj’s private account. It reads in part–
Outed From the Box.I am Nasdijj. I am the author of several critically claimed books and I am a PEN Book-of-the-Year award-winner. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, and I have been nominated for a National Magazine Award. My books have been published by Random House/ Ballantine/ Crown. WWNorton. Houghton Mifflin.I have written a new novel called YEAR OF THE HYENA: THE STORY OF NASDIJJ.In this book I tell the story of “the scandal of Nasdijj” and who Nasdijj really is — AND — WHAT IT HAS BEEN LIKE TO BE NASDIJJ. This is my story. No one else has the truth. No one can tell this story like I can.This book deals with my founding of Refuge House, a shelter for boys with AIDS, and the current swirling controversy about who I actually am (the media does not have it right).”
A spokeswoman for Penguin would only confirm that Barrus was “shopping around.”
Following the publication of “Navahoax,” the Raleigh News and Observer, for whom Nasdijj wrote book reviews, discovered that the author’s social security number (used in paying Nasdijj) could be positively matched to Tim Barrus.
Likewise an editor at Esquire was able to confirm that the check sent to the author of its piece The Blood Runs Like a River Through my Dreams, was made out to “Tim Nasdijj Barrus.” An editor’s note was also added to the online version of the piece: “In January 2006, doubts were raised about the identity of the author, Nasdijj. Esquire has been unable to refute those challenges or to confirm the truthfulness of the following essay. Consequently, its veracity is in question. We maintain access to the story here, for those who are interested and for the record. But we can no longer stand behind it with confidence as an honest account of the author’s experience.”
Barrus, who is in touch with the L.A. Weekly but has declined to comment on the record thus far, made his first public comments to the News and Observer, responding to the charges against him by email– “The real scandals are racism, poverty, disease, AIDS, FAS [fetal alcohol syndrome], autism, a medical system that is a train wreck, an environment that can barely breathe, and a war that is a self-created nightmare,” he said.
A lengthy post on his blog, titled “The Real Scandal,” followed in which he denounced the shallowness of American celebrity culture, the nationwide ignorance of the enormity of AIDS, and, in a manner consistent with past Barrus postings, the evils of publishing.
A companion post on his wife Tina Giovanni’s blog continued “The real scandal” motif, but focused instead on the issue of Autism. Both posts were subsequently removed and on Saturday morning Nasdijj posted anew with an entry reading only “Deserving Death for Evil Deeds.” The lone phrase was accompanied by a picture of two young men, blindfolded and noosed around their necks, waiting to be hung by masked assailants.
Mid-day, however, he added a long post titled “Deserving Death for Evil Deeds, by Tim Barrus.”
I am writing this one for myself. So it doesn't really matter what you believe or don't believe. What you want to believe you want to believe. If I am the devil incarnate then I am the devil incarnate.This one is for me.As I write this, I have hit the road again.…Am I hiding out. You bet. Go. Go. The road is what I am at home with….Now that my head and my balls have been chopped off by the Red Queen's guillotine, why in the world should I CARE what people think. Thank god almighty, I am free at last.
To read the full blog, and those since, see https://www.nasdijj.typepad.com/.
The L.A. Weekly's original article on Nasdijj, Navahoax, can be read here.