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Lyin' Like a Dog Paperback – Import, 22 Feb 2010
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About the Author
As a young boy R. Harper Mason lived on a small farm in southern Arkansas. He is able to vividly capture an era of American history, before air-conditioning, television and modern technology. His story reflects a time of brown sunburned feet, shirtless summers and very special country Christmases. Mason earned both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in geology from the University of Arkansas. He worked for the King Ranch in South Texas, followed by an overseas assignment on well-sites deep in the Libyan Sahara Desert. Thirty years ago Mason started his own company, Gibraltar Energy in El Dorado, Ark. of which he is CEO and President. In the early 1990's he was the president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation and wrote a monthly column for them covering state environmental issues. Mason also wrote an environmental column which ran in newspapers around the state and hosted an environmental radio show, both called Natural Solutions.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
And surprise of surprises--I loved it!
Less than a minute into Lyin' Like a Dog I found myself transported back to my childhood in Ohio and the fanciful daydreams I used to have... I couldn't help but think of the childish capers my brothers used to pull, our daddy threatening them with his belt, etc. (Well, to be truthful, my BFF Jane Smith and I used to have some whopping adventures ourselves. Being girls, we weren't supposed to admit them, but that's another story...) Granted, we lived in the city, so there were no swamps or moonshiners, but there were plenty of factories, swimming holes and gravel pits to lure us youngsters, not to mention the lonely train whistles to fire our imagination and whisk us off on fantasy adventures of our own.
Anyway, it was nostalgic fun to join these mischievous, but kind-hearted and lovable boys in their riotous capers. I found myself laughing one minute, then holding my breath the next as they went off on their most dangerous daredevil exploits.
I couldn't believe the trouble Richard and John Clayton got into... Whether they were being "Indian scouts" in the swamps, finagling money to buy comic books, spying on some moonshiners, hurrying through Richard's newspaper route, witnessing illegal crimes, out-bullying the school bully, playing a vicious game of tug-of-war, or getting their first crush on girls, somehow they always managed to make it humorous.
I felt like I knew the cast of characters from the parents to the teachers to their friends; characters with such amusing names as Ears, Swampy, Homer Ray and Curly. Rosalie is the pretty little rich girl, Connie is Richard's special friend, a girl called Freckles is John Clayton's, and Uncle Hugh is their oldest friend. He's a "colored man" whom the boys help by doing small tasks and visiting to keep him from getting lonely. Hugh tells the best stories and frightens them to death with his ghost stories. He plays a pivotal role in the book.
I particularly enjoyed their Tom Sawyer-like adventures told in the childish vernacular of the narrator, Richard Mason (patterned from the author's life in rural Arkansas). It's all about Richard and his best friend John Clayton Reed during the eleventh year of their lives. The time period is from December 1944 to September1945 and some scenes depict the family listening to Walter Winchell report the dramatic events of WWII.
Author R. Harper Mason certainly seems to understand a young boy's mind because the speech pattern is spot on and the action and characteristics are realistic. He must be a natural-born storyteller because he relates this tale in an easy-to-read, chronological order with excellent pacing. The questions that form in the readers' minds are answered in all the right places. He certainly transported me to another world with ease and efficiency. The ending was warm and satisfactory; no loose ends here.
I'm still smiling as I recommend Lyin' Like a Dog to young and old alike. This is the second book about young Richard's life. The first was The Red Scarf and I can't wait to read it. I hope he continues this series.
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, July 1, 2010
Author of "Dream Reachers" (with Chase Von) and other books
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!