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Lyin' Like a Dog

A book by R. Harper Mason

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  • Jul 15, 2010
  • by
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 story, we find the same local characters we find in the author's first work. As I was rather fond of those characters, this read met my needs perfectly. The book and story have a very comfortable feel to them.

R. Harper Mason can quite well be classified as a regional author but I am leery of using that term in this case because the story, characters , location and times can be related to by just about everyone. You need not have been raised in a small southern town to appreciate this work as its message is universal. I must admit to favoring southern regional authors though, and was delighted that I found these books and this author.

This is the story of a young lad, Richard, his best friend John Clayton, and their shared adventures during the eleventh year of their lives. Richard, the narrator of the story tells his story in the mode of a story teller recounting the adventures of the two friends. The author uses a dialog which is an exact match for the time and place. Fear not though, it is not difficult to understand and the story simply would not be the same without it. Many books written over the past years, which are rich in either regional or ethnic dialect, are a complete turn-off to the young readers of today; they find them "difficult." This is not the case here. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact; the author handles this aspect of his writing well!

We have almost a daily account of this young boy's life, which is based on the experiences of the author growing up in that area of the world during those times. Now keep in mind that like all good story tellers, the author has probably started with a complete autobiographical account and then added little bits here and little bits there; embellishing this and that, and mixing truth with, maybe not lies, but at least with a very good imagination. What he ends up with is an excellent story and a glimpse into a way of life that is no more and most likely never will be again. We have a slight mixture of Mark Twain mingled with a bit of Ferrel Sams (Run with the Horsemen), and an author speaking in a voice which is all his own.

From accounts of "running the woods, swamps and creeks," to run-ins with local bootleggers, to the normal trials and tribulations of all eleven year old school boys and on to what at times, is a difficult family situation, the action and drama never cease. The author can take us from hilarious to whimsical in a brief moment. This is one of those works that anyone with a few years on them, i.e. getting a bit long in the tooth, so to speak, will instantly relate to, and at the same time capture the minds and imagination of any school age boy or girl. This book is quite suitable for any reader from 9 to 90 and beyond.

I must admit right here that, in my case, this book was just a bit spooky and I sort of became a bit paranoid while reading it. I grew up not far from the geographical location where this story takes place, in a small southern town and I swear that the author must have been following me around during the 1940s and 1950s taking notes. Even as the book closes, Richard's final girl friend wears the same name as mine did and the circumstances surrounding their relationship were oddly much like mine. Now in my case, I have been married to that girl I knew when I was eleven, and have been married to her for about 47 years now. I wonder if Richard's love will work out the same?

For a wonderful nostalgic read it just does not get much better than this. For a read that will tell the younger set just what it was like "back then," this work is the perfect choice. This is one for the entire family to enjoy! I do hope there are further books coming down the line!

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks

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More Lyin' Like a Dog reviews
review by . November 09, 2010
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 …
review by . June 13, 2010
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, …
review by . July 01, 2010
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 …
review by . June 19, 2010
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 …
About the reviewer
Don Blankenship ()
Ranked #228
Retirement does not suit me and I now substitute teach in our local schools system. I spent twenty years in the military, twenty years in health care as a consultant and have taught in various colleges … more
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About this book


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.
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ISBN-10: 1439271399
ISBN-13: 978-1439271391
Author: R. Harper Mason
Publisher: CreateSpace

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