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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town [Mass Market Paperback]

Stephen Leacock , Jack Hodgins
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 1989 New Canadian library
Affectionately combining both the idyllic and ironic, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is Stephen Leacock’s most beloved book. Set in fictional Mariposa, an Ontario town on the shore of Lake Wissanotti, these sketches present a remarkable range of characters: some irritating, some exasperating, some foolhardy, but all endearing. Painted with the skilful brushstrokes of a great comic artist, the delightful inhabitants of Mariposa represent the people of small towns everywhere.

As fresh, funny, and insightful today as when it was first published in 1912, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is Stephen Leacock at his best – colourful, imaginative, and thoroughly entertaining.

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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is one of Canada’s classic works of literature, and perhaps its most complex work of satire. A series of linked stories chronicling life in the fictional community of Mariposa--modelled on Orillia, Ontario--Sunshine Sketches gently mocks Canadian small-town life in a manner that is as dead-on as it is humourous. Whether describing the sinking of the town’s ship, the Mariposa Belle, in a few feet of water in "The Marine Excursion of the Knights of Pythias" or giving an account of an old-fashioned courting that ends disastrously in "The Foreordained Attachment of Zena Pepperleigh and Peter Pupkin," Leacock's ridiculously earnest narrator presents a community torn between a desire for modernity and a nostalgia for a simpler past. The result is an absurd romp through both our social and literary values.

But Sunshine Sketches is also a highly political book, one that demonstrates Leacock's background as an economist and embodies many social and cultural anxieties still felt in Canada today. The stories reveal an unease about everything from the excesses of capitalism to Canada's identity, and a dark note of pessimism underlies much of the book's humour. While the narrator of Sunshine Sketches is unconcerned about the future of his community, Leacock was clearly worried about the direction Canadian society was taking, and at times the book seems eerily prophetic of today's globalized, American-dominated Canada. Above all, Sunshine Sketches is a damn good read. It's one of those rare books that manage to seamlessly combine social criticism with good storytelling. Like the town of Mariposa itself, Sunshine Sketches is timeless. --Peter Darbyshire


Praise for Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town: "Leacock had a wonderful ear for dialogue and was superbly skilled in creating polished, self-contained scenes and in evoking character with a few sure strokes." -- Will Ferguson
Praise for Seth: "To read a book by Seth is to enter an oddly cozy, perfectly designed world where humor, nostalgia, and a gentle sadness pervade like the last autumnal rays of sunlight on a quiet afternoon." -- San Francisco Weekly

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Soothes the Soul Feb. 26 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There is at least one author who may remind you of Stephen Leacock, namely Garrison Keillor of Lake Wobegon fame, but Leacock should be recognized as the ultimate master of quaint, bucolic humor. Leacock, who died in 1944, became arguably the most prominent Canadian humorist of his day (and probably of all time). What is ironic about that claim is that Leacock worked for most of his life as a professor of economics. We do not usually equate economics with humor, preferring to think of that profession as one of bow ties and supply and demand charts. Throw that presumption out the window and pick up a copy of "Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town," Leacock's best known work available through the New Canadian Library series.
For me, one of the funniest sections of the book was the introduction written by Leacock, where he gives you some background about himself and his profession. This short piece of writing quickly gives you an idea of the type of humor you will find in the actual sketches: a very sly, very quiet and clever type of humor that often takes a while to sink in. Leacock does not rely on rim shot jokes or manic posturing in his writings. Instead, he creates the fictional Canadian town of Mariposa and populates it with small town archetypes that are wonders to behold.
All of the characters are hilarious in their own way: Mr. Smith, the proprietor of the local hotel and bar, full of schemes to earn money while trying to get his liquor license back. Then there is Jefferson Thorpe, the barber involved in financial schemes that may put him on the level of the Morgans and the Rockefellers. The Reverend Mr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the funniest book i've ever read Dec 3 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Like the heading says, this is the funniest book I've ever read. Leacock was a comic genius and this is his best work. Buy it, read it, love it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars humour May 4 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
i hadn't read any Stephen Leacock since I was in school, many, many years ago. Having been brought up in a rural area not unlike a little town, I remembered his style of writing, and decided it was time to visit his town again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! April 18 2014
By felipe
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent book. The author really captivates the reader. At first it seems like he over describes everything (which he does), but it all comes to use as you read along.
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5.0 out of 5 stars love it! Dec 4 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
in very good condition, i would say it is new and it is very thin and cute. needed for a class, so not going to comment for the content..
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Leacock never disappoints Aug. 6 2013
By Svatka
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Leacock never disappoints. I love his humour and the way he looks at ordinary things. He is Mark Twain with a Canadian twist.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sunshine Sketches of a little Town Feb. 4 2013
By Diane G
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a Freebie and my first download...super easy to do. This is a nice charming story... the author tells it in away that is not too flowery.....just right. So...not a barn burner, but I'm glad I read this Canadian Classic!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Irony
The author is a master of understatement and irony. One can snooze though this little yarn of a fictional small town in Ontario at the turn of the 20th century, but you would miss... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrits beware!
Leacock was a master of understatement in Canadian humour. He delights in poking fun at the hypocrits wether they be politicians, clergy or townspeople. Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2011 by Alan Rivers
5.0 out of 5 stars funniest book i've ever read
no hype. i couldn't stop laughing as i was reading this. and i mean laughing out loud. in a cafe. with everyone staring at me. but i didn't care. and i couldn't help it if i did. Read more
Published on June 21 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars An endearing portrait of Oriliia -- my home town
Perhaps the finest comment about Stephen Leacock in the last half century is that "he is a
Will Rogers for the 90's. Read more
Published on Dec 16 2001 by Theodore A. Rushton
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful satire on small town life
This 1912 work uses sketches about the residents of a small Ontario lake town. The tone is mock-boosterish, giving rise to some sly comic moments. Read more
Published on July 7 2001 by Robert H. Nunnally Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, ironic, hilarious. Leacock is a 90's Will Rogers
Leacock's observations about people and community are devastatingly accurate and wonderfully recognizeable. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 1998 by
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