The Way of the Jaguar

The first novel from Francisco X. Stork, The Way of the Jaguar tells the story of Ismael Díaz, a Mexican-American awaiting execution in Texas.

Behind the Eyes cover

Ismael Díaz is on death row. When the commissioner orders him to write for two hours each day, Díaz tells the story of his descent from prominent real estate attorney in Boston to a desperate searcher for the love of his youth in the seedy brothels of Mexico.

"If ever a literary character arrived on death row for the crime of love, it is Ismael Díaz in this potent novel. Díaz was a successful real estate lawyer in Boston until he stamped out a neighbor's 'spring-cleaning fire.'

"One thing led to another and Díaz lost his home, his wife—everything that he thought made his life worthwhile. He ends up back in El Paso, his hometown, looking for Armanda, the long-abandoned love of his youth. After he left her, Armanda, without Díaz's knowledge, bore his child, later saw that child murdered by a sibling and gradually lost herself in drugs and prostitution across the border in Ciudad Juarez. Díaz finds and rehabilitates her, but soon a crisis occurs, resulting in murder-or, rather, an execution. All of this is related in short episodes in a 46-day diary...

"As Díaz reconstructs his life, he also learns the 'way of the jaguar' from another inmate. It is half ancient Aztec, half home-grown philosophy (heavy on the Zen) that entails facing down La Pelona—Death herself—and accepting life. Paralleling this mental pathway are Díaz's memories of the Paso Lento, a passive but passionate lovemaking method that Armanda taught him, details of which will blow the socks off the reader. As Armanda says, 'I can show you the steps but the music of the Paso Lento comes from inside you.'"

(Quoted material copyright 2000, Reed Business Information, Inc.)

 

The Way of the Jaguar was published in 2000
and was the recipient of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize.