CSFF Blog Tour, Day 1: The Charlatan’s Boy, by Jonathan Rogers

Okay, I admit it. I’m a charlatan. I promised to do a real review of this month’s feature and not beg off with some lame excuse for not reading it, followed by a smokescreen of tangentially-related blather and referrals to other, more responsible reviewers.

Instead, I’m three-for-three in the last quarter of the year. Pathetic.

I wish I had read it. By all accounts, Jonathan Rogers’ The Charlatan’s Boy is a wonderful story, written by a master, suitable for all ages.

Thirty Second Summary: Young Grady works for his guardian, Floyd, in a traveling medicine show that for some years has profitably emptied the pockets of the good folk living on the mythical island of Corenwald. However, the payoffs are dwindling, and Grady’s getting restless. He wants to search out his real parents, but he can’t count on Floyd to give him a straight answer. To make matters worse, Floyd’s latest scheme might get them both killed, or worse–but it also might give Grady the clue he’s been looking for.

Sigh. On to the smokescreen. Nothing up my sleeve…

The immortal Robert Preston as The Music Man.

The Charlatan

Of all the criminals who have plied their trade across recorded history, the charlatan, confidence man, con-artist, fraud, hokum, flim-flam, snake-oil salesman, huckster, grifter–the labels go on and on–holds a special place in our hearts.  If you’re his victim—mark, shill, sucker, rube, et cetera–you hate him with a volcanic rage. He’s not only stolen your property, he’s made you look stupid in the process. The casual observer watches him with an odd blend of fascination, admiration, and disgust. The guy’s a rotten crook, but he’s so doggone slick, smart, and charming. It’s like watching a master craftsman at work, and if the mark happens to be a rich narcissist, seeing that overfed ego carved into julienne fries by a keenly-honed wit is a vicariously satisfying experience.

Oh, and just because I’m defaulting to the male personal pronoun doesn’t mean that women can’t be effective in the bunko racket. Quite the contrary. Some might say all women are charlatans at heart, but that’s another discussion for another day, by somebody else, with me far, far away in a reinforced-concrete bunker.

Shawn uses his powers for good now. Mostly.

The con man has an added charm: we know he could be an incredible force for good, if only he would apply his intelligence and charisma to the cause of righteousness. He doesn’t have a bad heart, he’s just misguided. Maybe he had a troubled childhood. Perhaps he wasn’t adequately challenged in school. His parents might have planted a target on his back by giving him a name that was way too easy to rhyme with some bodily function. At any rate, love him or hate him, what we really want to do, deep down, is turn him around and bring him over to the side of truth and justice. Preferably, working for us.

You only need look at popular culture for evidence. The flim-flam man is a staple of literature, cinema, and television. From The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to The Music Man, to more modern examples such as  Ocean’s 11, The Grifters, The Mentalist, and Psych, we can’t get enough of these folks who can sell igloos to Eskimos, carry coals to Newcastle, charm the feathers off a duck, and get out of town one step ahead of the lynch mob.

Tomorrow, I’ll attempt to divert your attention with some sparkling patter about patent medicine, curiosities of nature, and other lures of the traveling huckster. Keep a tight grip on those wallets and purses, ladies and gentlemen.

UPDATE: Jonathan Rogers has risen from the audience and issued a challenge! See his comments below. Return tomorrow to witness the terrifying spectacle! Adults, $1.00, Children 5 years and older, $0.50. Infants and pets free. Liability waivers required of expectant women and persons of delicate constitution.

In the meantime, please consider the more substantial and legitimate offerings at the other stops on this month’s CSFF Blog Tour:

Link to purchase The Charlatan’s Boy
Jonathan Rogers’ website

Sally Apokedak
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Katie Hart
Bruce Hennigan
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

6 thoughts on “CSFF Blog Tour, Day 1: The Charlatan’s Boy, by Jonathan Rogers

  1. Thanks, Fred. Your post is very much in the spirit of The Charlatan’s Boy. The mind boggles to think what a great review you would have written if you had read the book.

    Mind if I issue a challenge? I’d love to see what kind of review you could write just from the chapter titles. You have to promise not to cheat and read any of the actual book–only the chapter titles and the back cover copy. If you’re up to the challenge, I will post your review on my blog. If you want to go back and read the book later, fine, but according to the terms of this challenge, you have to review the book sight unseen.

    What say you?

    1. How could any true charlatan refuse a challenge like that? I accept your terms, sir! One review, armed only with chapter titles, blindfolded.

      I may, however, need an extra swig of Plumptree’s Vitaminised Nerve Food. 🙂

  2. A timely reference to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader…I wasn’t expecting Plumptree’s Vitamised Nerve Food. This should be good.

    If I find out you read any of the book before writing your review, you will be tarred and feathered. You may, however, watch these movies about feechies to prepare yourself: http://jonathan-rogers.com/?page_id=455. (Warning: most of the information in those videos is false).

  3. Oh, Jonathan, you might have challenged the wrong man! Fred has written the most brilliant non-reviews I’ve ever read. They out shine many an actual review.

    So you are right—what his review might have been boggles the mind.


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