In Bruja, Wendy C. Ortiz allows us into the most private corners of her mind. Published in October 2016, this is not quite an exploration of her dreams, as she doesn’t give her interpretation of them, and not quite a memoir but a dreamoir. The dreamoir is defined as “a narrative derived from the most malleable and revelatory details of one’s dreams, cataloged in bold detail. A literary adventure through the boundaries of memoir, where the self is viewed from a position anchored into the deepest recesses of the mind.” With that introduction, we dive directly into 227 pages of vignettes written in a way that immediately trains the reader to live in that dream feeling where everything is fact. The vignettes, mostly less than a page long, are enough to give a reader pause. If you really wanted to, you could finish this in a day. I did not. I savored each image in quiet contemplation of what the dream may have revealed to me not only about the dreamer, but to me in my own life. Each section is separated by the month the dream took place over the course of 4 years when Wendy was in her 20s. Knowing this and knowing this is her third memoirish book, I immediately want to read more.
Even if you’re not like me, who believes dreams are a portal into another lived time and place, through Wendy’s dreams, we get a most intimate look at her wants, needs, desires, and troubles.
“V. told me, You are phenomenally beautiful.” (131)
If you never remember your dreams, everyone dreams when they sleep. And even if we have several dreams a night (which we all do), how many times have you woken up with a single image or line stuck in your head? Bruja captures those moments and feelings exquisitely. Wendy grounds us in her dreams by sometimes using phrases like “I understood” or “I knew”, perfectly capturing the feelings dream leave us with. She sometimes uses names but often reduces a name to a single letter, allowing for a cast of characters to be presented but the focus is always on the sights, symbols, feelings. Many times, all sorts of people seep into our subconscious world and deliver messages or partake in events. The ways in which these people exist in Bruja are a part of Wendy’s dreamland spell.
The beauty of Bruja is that while you might try to piece together the puzzle of what was or did happen in Wendy’s life, you know that dreams are a reflection of our lived realities and secrets. Everything is open to interpretation in our dreams. Reading Bruja is a revelatory act of Wendy’s psyche that brought me to question the symbols and moments of life that haunt us. Even the cover art, by artist Wendy Ortiz not to be confused with the author Wendy C. Ortiz, is full of divine energy. No years or dates are listed. The only thing linear in this book is the order of the months, and even that starts in April and ends “Now”. What ties the book together are symbols and themes, all of which are indexed at the end. Even the index is interesting as you can see the repetition of symbols and people and what may have had more meaning and weight during this particular time of her life, what may continue to appear in her dreams. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising to be going through transitions in identity and having recurring dreams of packing and unpacking, of travel, of unsure destination. Breaking all rules and inventing a genre, this book is mesmerizing.
My Experience with MUSA
“I joined The Musa Book and Writing Club when it was first formed by Wendy Angulo in August 2016. When I was asked to join, I was excited to have an opportunity to share a space with an amazing group of women. I had hoped to write more and read more, but what ensued in the following year went beyond my expectations. I found a group of women who would not only hold me accountable but also allow me to shed my protective skin and be myself. They have helped me grow as a reader and a writer. I began to read more than ever because of this club’s influence, discovering and discussing new favorite gems. Musa has become a sort of lifeline for me. A group that I know I can reach when I feel disjointed from my writing and from myself. It has become a sisterhood that continues to inspire and evoke a well of positivity; I’m not sure what my last year of writing would have looked like with them. I cannot be more honored and thrilled to be a part of Musa and look forward to the continued reading, writing, critiquing, food, and laughs!”