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Living the Dream

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  3. Einstein Didn't Dream of My Mother
  4. I Had Dreams by Tracey L. Perger
  5. Dreaming beyond fiction and nonfiction

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Some sensational memoirs have been exposed as frauds, and this lends an air of disbelief to the genre. But only one person experiences a dream. And, if an author is recounting her own dreams, this must be nonfiction, because these dreams really happened, right?


Are all dreams already fiction? And what gaps must always exist between the experience of a dream, and the description of it?


It might be redundant to say that Bruja follows a dream logic — the entire book consists of untitled dreams, divided into chapters organized by month over about four years. Some of these dreams are only a sentence long, and linger near the center of the page on their own; none of the dreams takes up more than two pages. In Bruja , Ortiz reveals dream logic by refusing to make dreams logical, presenting a narrative without direct interpretation, except for the analysis that exists within the dreams themselves.

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  • I Had Dreams by Tracey L. Perger.

Some of the dreams portray common stresses, taken to the next level of anxiety so that they almost become meditative, such as this dream, quoted in its entirety:. I was a pallbearer.

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The body was contained in identical gift boxes, each the size of a watch box. Something was happening in the sky. This happens all over the house. Her mother urges her on.


Einstein Didn't Dream of My Mother

At times Ortiz expresses a childlike excitement, a sense of fear or danger, but the brevity of the descriptions pushes past sentimentality. We walk around one house and it becomes another, into a car that takes us around the corner to a store in another city. None of this is surprising, right?

Not in a dream. In Bruja , Ortiz offers no attempt to create a coherent narrative—instead, she allows dreams to remain dreams.

I Had Dreams by Tracey L. Perger

The meaning of each of these dreams is up to the reader to determine, or refuse. When Ortiz discovers a tabloid newspaper showing famous people with elongated necks like this rabbit, we get to imagine which famous people. If we want to. By presenting her dreams without explication, Ortiz allows each of us to become the bruja.

Dismal as these politicians appeared to be on the campaign trail, their collected works made an even sorrier catalogue. Every last one of them was a farrago of wonkishness, insincerity, and cliche, polemical half-truths and bits of old stump speeches, mashed-up press releases and policy statements, reheated for popular consumption in some of the dullest American prose imaginable.

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Was it possible that none of the candidates had even read these books, let alone written them? There was, however, an exception, a shaft of clarity and brilliance in the prevailing murk. One of the Democratic outsiders, the junior senator from the state of Illinois, a certain Barack Obama , had not only written his own book some years before, he had also executed an affecting personal memoir with grace and style, narrating an enthralling story with honesty, elegance and wit, as well as an instinctive gift for storytelling. It had a voice, and an unmistakable authority. Back in , among many millions, I had never heard of Barack Obama, though I was vaguely aware that he had made an electrifying speech at the Democratic party convention.

Dreaming beyond fiction and nonfiction

Now, not only did I begin to follow his campaign, I suggested in the Observer that a presidential candidate with such literary and rhetorical gifts deserved to be in the White House, and predicted that, against the odds, he might prevail. Anyway, a year later, it had all come to pass. Hillary Clinton shades of had been passed over by the voters. Race, for many, remains one of the most contentious issues in contemporary America. His own occasionally uncertain response demonstrates how difficult a subject it remains.

Beyond this, Dreams from My Father is a remarkably candid portrait of a young man facing up to the big questions of identity and belonging.