Lara Naughton’s The Jaguar Man (Central Recovery Press; July 12, 2016; 978-1-942094-20-3) explores her encounter with the stranger who raped her. Perhaps surprisingly, she doesn’t want retribution, she wants him to heal. She writes, “I will always maintain that my right as a victim is that I get treated, and he gets treated.”
The Jaguar Man is about what happens when one incident changes your life, splitting it between before and after. On the fourth day of what Lara thought would be two weeks of bliss in Belize, she was kidnapped and assaulted by a man pretending to be a cabdriver. Held in the depths of the jungle—alone with the Jaguar Man—compassion was her only defense.
Compassion for her rapist.
Lara’s survival and journey of healing is poignant, compelling, and exceptional. Bending the limits of reality, she uses myth and magical realism to process her experience. As Lara seeks a new understanding of herself, her lyrical, haunting prose reveals a belief that there is room for compassion—for self and for others—even in the midst of violence and fear.
Lara’s journey has taken her from Los Angeles, where she began her career in education, to New Orleans, where she is the chair of the creative writing department at the famed New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). In addition to teaching writing, she also leads mindfulness and compassion workshops in various and varied environments across the country, including within prisons. She has collaborated with the exonerated Gregory Bright, who spent more than 27 years in Louisiana’s infamous Angola prison for a murder he didn’t commit, to write a play, Never Fight a Shark in Water, which has toured the country.
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