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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town Paperback – Dec 19 2006
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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is one of Canadas 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 towns 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Although we have long celebrated Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town as a Canadian classic, we have had to wait until now for an edition that would put the best possible version of the text into our hands. It is wonderful to have that at last. The additional framing this edition gives Leacock’s great work is invaluable. This new edition of Leacock’s pastoral comedy should provoke new critical consideration of a literary work that is far more complex and richer than we have so far noticed.” ― Russell Brown, University of Toronto: co-editor, The Oxford Anthology of Canadian Literature
“Carl Spadoni’s edition of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is a delight to peruse. As a critical edition it brings to twentieth-century textual study what the CEECT series accomplished for nineteenth-century Canadian books. Beyond that, Spadoni provides new information and revelations throughout his introduction, enriching our sense of the complex place that Mariposa held in Stephen Leacock’s imagination and the welter of critical response that his apparently innocent book has engendered. It’s an important work, worth at least a year of shaves and haircuts in Jeff Thorpe’s memorable barber shop.” ― Michael Peterman, Trent University
“Spadoni’s edition deserves a welcome place on the shelves of Canadian literature specialists and general readers alike.” ― Canadian Literature--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Will Rogers for the 90's."
Rogers, of course, is one of the most beloved of American humorists -- he was killed in
1935 when his plane crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska. Leacock died on March 28, 1944.
Like Rogers, he had been Canada's favorite humorist for decades.
Sunshine Sketches is about Orillia, Ontario, Canada, where Leacock had his summer home
on Brewery Bay (he once wrote, "I have known that name, the old Brewery Bay, to make
people feel thirsty by correspondence as far away as Nevada.") His home is now maintained
as a historic site by the town of Orillia. I lived there for almost 30 years, and the people of Orillia are still much the same as Leacock portrayed them in 1912.
These stories about various personalities in town were printed in the local newspaper in the
1910 - 1912 era, before being compiled into this book which established Leacock's literary
fame. The people portrayed really lived, though some are composites; the events are of a
kindly humorist looking at the foibles of small town life. Once they came out in book form
and soared to national popularity, everyone in town figured the rest of the country was
laughing at them because of Leacock's book and he was royally hated in Orillia to the end
of his life.
Gradually, and this took decades, Orillians came to recognize that genius had walked
amongst them for several decades. (It's hard to recognize genius when your own ego is so
inflated.) Orillia now awards the annual "Leacock Medal for Humor" -- Canada's top literary
prize for the best book of humour for the preceding year.Read more ›
In my opinion Leacock draws the sketches of Mariposa to make the thesis that life was better before the age of modernity. He writes of the changes in the winds in the first decade of the 20th century; Canada becoming it's own nation, the rise of literary criticism in theology, and the new technologies of the telephone and railroads. And the juxtaposition of the big city and immigration from small towns all represented the changing times of 1912.
He symbolized this with his sketch of the Mariposa Belle, a small excursion steamer that sunk and the would-be rescuers had to be rescued from their own leaky boats. The steamer symbolizes pre-modernity doesn't really sink, but only sank to six feet of water and stayed upright. The rescuer i.e. modernity came to save the old society, but modernity itself gets rescued. The rescue was definitely ironic.
I think this comes out in the final chapter when the reader takes a nostalgic train ride back to Mariposa from the big city and reminisces about the old town. I felt that this chapter made me long for a better place and a time that was innocent. Leacock writes with a perception that had a universal appeal that would make anyone long for their own childhood. I found it interesting that he even shamed the reader to remember Mariposa, from the hustle and bustle of `making your way' in the big city.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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.Published 22 months ago by felipe
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..Published on Dec 4 2013 by Sui HaoNan
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 morePublished on Oct. 23 2011 by Alan Rivers
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 morePublished on June 21 2003
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.Published on Dec 3 2002
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