In today's age of storytelling, it seems like every young adult book published requires wizards or dragons. I'd thought long gone were the days when the shenanigans of everyday `chilluns' didn't involve a vampire, a witch, or a werewolf. Today's teens and tweens have been drafted into the service of international espionage instead of worrying about pimples, hygiene, and starlight. And how many suburban high school proms are every really spoiled by a lumbering army of bloodthirsty zombies?
Now, take heart, gentle readers: this is not to say that there is anything wrong with the works of Rowling, Tolkien, Lewis, Meyer, or anyone else. It's just to say that, while those writers have staked out their own respective territories, there's always required a uniquely human experience at the core of most childhoods. I, as a reader, find that lost a bit when the hero's mission is tied to saving life as we know it. How refreshing it is to find R. Harper Mason's able young protagonists, Richard Mason and John Clayton Reed and the dog Sniffer, worried more about comic books than Communists in LYIN' LIKE A DOG.
There's magic in this tale, but it isn't the magic of witches or warlocks. (This is not to say that the ever-resourceful Richard and John Clayton wouldn't have found some way to exploit a good spell had it showed its freckled face.) It's the magic of young people behavin' like ... well ... young people! These two boys run, jump, and leap off the page in one adventure in adolescence to the next, whether they're heading in the direction their parents would be proud of or not. They do right, they do wrong, they learn from their mistakes, they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and rush headlong in their next caper. LYIN' LIKE A DOG is filled with the magic of character, and that's something that gets sidetracked when you're the teenage incarnation of King Arthur with the responsibility of saving the world on your shoulders. Richard and John Clayton would be far more concerned with how they're going to amass enough personal wealth to buy their first bicycles.
Author Mason's world is filled with boys and girls and dogs and bullies and tug'o'war and first kisses and holdin' hand and paper routes and cabins and kindly neighbors and forests and comic books. There's plenty of adventure. There's even a little gunplay that finds its way into these boys' world. It's a time of youthful inexperience, maybe even a little impolite youthful indiscretion, but it's all told with humor and a zest for inevitably doin' what's best. Also, it's a time when getting' a switchin' for doin' something wrong wouldn't be followed by a televised visit to Peoples' Court. It's a time most often explored by Charles Dickens and Mark Twain as well as Judy Blume and Donald J. Sobol. It's the inventiveness of not-necessarily-uniquely American youth, told thru the eyes of two young but lovable scoundrels and their sometimes sidekick dog.
(In fairness of disclosure, Mr. Mason provided me with a complimentary copy of LYIN' LIKE A DOG for the purpose of writing this review. I'm glad he did. I'm gonna run right out and buy his first book, THE RED SCARF, after I post this review.)
Twelve-year-old boys that have room to roam can have great adventures, but they can also get into a lot of trouble. Richard and John Clayton are inseparable best friends with a lot of curiosity, energy and a desire to make things happen. It is an understatement to say that they are merely active, their bodies and minds are going all the time, not necessarily always in the proper direction. Their activities in rural Arkansas at the end of World War II range from exploring the local swamps, … more
One of the best and most enjoyable reads I have had in quite awhile now was The Red Scarf by Richard Mason. Now comes this second book by the same author under the name of R. Harper Mason! Pure reading joy and bliss, I must say! Lyin' Like a Dog begins right where The Red Scarf leaves off, the day after Christmas in a small S.W. Arkansas town in 1944. Of course, you need not read `The Red Scarf' first, but I am glad I did. In this offering, even though it is a completely separate … more
I'm a mother and grandmother who enjoys all reading--from mystery, horror, thriller, romance and sci-fi to kiddie lit in all its many forms. Since this book appears to be geared for young boys, I didn't think I would enjoy it very much. However, I liked the title and the tintype photo on the cover, so decided to give it a try. And surprise of surprises--I loved it! Less than a minute into Lyin' Like a Dog I found myself transported back to my childhood … more
Mason, R. Harper. "Lyin' Like a Dog", Gibraltar Press. 2007. Life in Arkansas Amos Lassen Being new to Arkansas I am always curious to know what it was like growing up there. R. Harper Mason is our hero, Robert, a paperboy living in the small town of Norphet and we read how he interacted with the others that lived there. This is a sequel to the author's first novel, "The Red Scarf". As Richard grew up we are with him … more
As a young boy, R. Harper Mason lived the life of the paperboy, 'Richard,' in this novel. His interactions with the people in the small town of Norphlet, Arkansas, and the surrounding woods and swamps, formed the basis for both his first novel, The Red Scarf, and this sequel, Lyin' Like a Dog. It was time of brown, sunburned feet and shirtless summers where a boy's only entertainment was his imagination. Mason is a geologist, an environmentalist, and an advocate for historic preservation. He lives with his wife, Vertis, in El Dorado, Arkansas... a few miles south of Flat Creek Swamp.