Ballantine Throws Nasdijj Overboard

By Neal Comment

Remember how during the first few weeks of the James Frey scandal, Anchor/Doubleday was loud and proud in its defense of their bestselling author? Well, Ballantine—which is, like Doubleday, part of the Random House conglomerate—isn’t going to make that mistake. Late Friday night, Hillel Italie filed an AP dispatch reporting that Ballantine has stopped shipping Nasdijj’s memoirs (the two they publish, anyway) and will accept returns from any bookstore that wants to send them back. Italie also reports on a new development we’d also heard about Friday, shortly after I revealed that Nasdijj is trying to sell his side of the story. See, in trying to verify that report, I’d spoken to Jim Cypher, who was Tim Barrus’s agent back in ’97, during which time he began using the name “T. Nasdijj Barrus.” The two split up after about a year because Barrus was too high-maintenance a client. “He elevated my blood pressure every time we spoke by phone,” Cypher recalled (though he would later go on to rep Barrus’s wife in her attempt to sell a memoir about her work with autistic children). That’s a recurring theme in the Nasdijj career trajectory: Ballantine’s spokeswoman told Italie that they cut the author loose in 2004 but wouldn’t say why, and Anton Mueller, the Houghton Mifflin editor who bought his first book, conceded to the LA Weekly, “Nasdijj is simply not the most stable person in the world.”*

Confirming that “Tim is his own worst enemy” because of his continued expression of entrenched resentment towards the publishing industry and the raw deal he believes minorities face at its hands, Cypher told me he’d gotten an email for Barrus Friday morning, which was a pointer to a lengthy rant on Nasdijj’s blog which, in essence, blames humanity for caring more about Nasdijj’s birth name than curing AIDS and decriminalizing marijuana. I was going to hold off on reporting about it until Monday, especially since I was still trying to see if I could find out who Nasdijj’s current agent is, but since Italie’s already broken the news…

*Mueller also thinks Nasdijj is “one of the most, if not the most talented writer I have ever worked with,” which some might consider an odd assertion for a man who’s bought books by Mark Slouka, Anchee Min, and Nico Ricci to make.