ADVENTURES IN WENDYLAND: BRUJA, BY WENDY C. ORTIZ
Wendy Ortiz’s dreamoire is way beyond a typical dream journal. Dream journals are generally just scraps or snippets of what we try to retain from our sleeping minds. But Bruja has what dream journals don’t have: depth, detail, expansion, and movement. Often we keep dream journals because we either want to remember our dreams in order to analyze and re-experience them. A very difficult feat to execute for an experience so fleeting.
Bruja provides us with not only the ability to view multiple dreams, but the opportunity to take the time we would otherwise not have, to traverse and experience dreams in our own time. Ortiz is giving not just her words, but her subconscious to the reader, so they can have the opportunity to go through someone else’s dreams, to analyze them, experience them, re-experience them in a very intimate way.
Bruja is a fluid, non-linear, and organic experience. In order to accomplish this, Ortiz provides the reader with a sense of familiarity by creating a realistic atmospheric experience. The names of people in the dream are constantly changing, like a moving set of characters. Places are fluid, dripping into each other. One minute, Ortiz is on her way to school in Portland, when she sees her professor, Michael Moore, at a bus stop. The next minute, she shows up late for a test and then is jumping into a non-motorized vehicle and driving off under the cloudy sky until she finds an elementary school set, back in the woods, where she can detonate a bomb.
In any other situation or book, this would seem like nonsense. But in Bruja it seems almost logical. This is what is happening. This is what happened. Why would it be any other way?
Everything is in a constant state of morphology because it has to be. The feeling of being in free fall is bolstered by the sense of non-linear continuation running through this book.
Sometimes when you are in a dream it feels familiar, like maybe you’ve had that dream before or it feels like an extension of a previous dream, but it doesn’t feel separate, it feels like there’s a continuity to what the dreamer is experiencing.
What is most interesting about Bruja is its sense of authenticity. Instead of thinking “why is there a woman with three legs wearing a pastel suit?” “Why is she pulling up to the sidewalk in a golf cart?” “How did we go from a three-legged woman in a golf cart to the narrator pondering having to choose between the two men in her life?
You are dissolving in the wave of happenings, regardless of what, or how unlikely, they were. As you are swimming in every detail, it truly feels like being in a dream.
The very act of reading Bruja is like being hexed and blessed at the same time. While you are in a good dream you are also in a bad dream, where the only escape is to close your eyes rather than open them. While the reader is making the conscious decision to read on, you can sure as hell bet that Ortiz made the subconscious decision to write on, regardless of whether it was pretty or not.
This book casts a spell on you, hypnotizing the reader into an altered state of mind, casting them out of their own minds for a little while and into the strange and ever-shifting dreamscapes of Wendyland.
Rebecca Charlotte is a recent graduate of Westfield State University, a small liberal arts school in New England, where she majored in English with a concentration in literature. Currently, she works at two libraries. By day, Rebecca is a nerdy librarian, by night she is a nerdy librarian who devours books and superhero shows. Her work has appeared in BUST, elephant journal, Her Campus, and will be included in the upcoming issue of Doll Hospital Journal. Her short story ‘My Pussy Tastes Like Pepsi Gnosis’ will be appearing in the upcoming anthology by CLASH Books, Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey and Sylvia Plath.