“Iliana of the Pleasure Dreams” is the last story in Tierra: Contemporary Short Fiction of New Mexico (1989), a book edited by Anaya that also contains stories by writers such as Tony Hillerman, Ed Chavez, and Patricia Clark Smith. The story illustrates Anaya’s methods in his short works. In the preface, he tells about the tierra, the land, of New Mexico, which is “an ingredient which dictates the natural pace of the stories in this collection” and “nourishes our creativity.” The story of a beautiful, newly married young woman, Iliana, is set in a rural mountain valley. Anaya combines realistic details of the land with the details of Iliana’s dream to tell an initiation story that ends with people in harmony with the earth and themselves.
One summer night, Iliana awakens from a dream in which she is running across a field of alfalfa toward a beautiful young man. The dream is very real, and she quietly moves toward the window to contemplate its meaning while looking at the night landscape. Anaya describes this scene so that the details of the breeze and the crickets in the landscape mesh with the dream. Iliana thinks of her early life with her strict religious aunts, her timidity with her shy, silent husband, and her uneasiness about the pleasure that was so real in her dream. She recalls her intention to confess her dream to the priest, but on the way to the church, trees seem to overwhelm her like the arms of men. The...
(The entire section is 594 words.)