5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Soothes the Soul
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...
Published on Feb 26 2003 by Jeffrey Leach
3.0 out of 5 stars Sunshine Sketches of a little Town
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!
Published 3 months ago by Diane G
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Soothes the Soul,
This review is from: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (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. Drone presides over the local Church of England in Mariposa, a man who reads Greek as easy as can be but laments his lack of knowledge about logarithms and balancing the financial books of the church. Peter Pupkin, the teller at the local bank, has a secret he wants no one to know about, but which eventually comes out while he is courting the daughter of the town judge. All of these characters, and several others, interact throughout the sketches.
Leacock has the ability to turn a story, to make it take a crazy, unexpected twist even when you are looking for such a maneuver. That he accomplishes this in stories that rarely run longer than twenty pages is certainly a sign of great talent. By the time you reach the end of the book, you know these people as though you lived in the town yourself, and you know what makes them tick.
Despite all of the crazy antics in Mariposa, Leacock never lets the reader lose sight of the fact that these are basically good people living good lives. There seems to be a lot of feeling for the citizens of Mariposa on the part of Leacock, which comes to a head in the final sketch in the collection, "L'Envoi. The Train to Mariposa," where he recounts traveling back to the town after being away for years, with all of the attendant emotions that brings as recognizable landmarks come into view and the traveler realizes that his little town is the same as when he left it years before.
I suspect there is a historical importance to "Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town." These writings first appeared in 1912, a time when many people living in the bigger Canadian cities still remembered life in a small town. In addition to the humorous aspects of the book, the author includes many descriptive passages concerning the atmosphere and layout of Mariposa, something instantly recognizable to anyone who grew up in such a place. Nostalgia for the simpler life of the small town probably played a significant role in the book's success.
I look forward to reading more Stephen Leacock. While much of the humor in the book is not belly laugh funny, it does provide one with a deep satisfaction of reading clever humor from an author who knows how to tickle the funny bone. You do not need to be Canadian to enjoy this wonderful book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the funniest book i've ever read,
By A Customer
This review is from: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (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.
3.0 out of 5 stars Sunshine Sketches of a little Town,
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This review is from: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Kindle Edition)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!
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Irony,
This review is from: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Mass Market Paperback)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 allot of the subtle humour. Various characters are quietly lampooned from the second person point of view. The characters are a bit odd, sort of off, normal, but not quite getting it. They have contradictions, but somehow they seem likeable.
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.
This book is a literary classic and a picture into a time when Canada was coming of age. It is a really excellent read for anyone who likes good literature, and a must read for Canadians wanting to dwell into our national dream.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funniest book i've ever read,
By A Customer
This review is from: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Mass Market Paperback)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. it's just too hilarious.
5.0 out of 5 stars An endearing portrait of Oriliia -- my home town,
This review is from: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Mass Market Paperback)Perhaps the finest comment about Stephen Leacock in the last half century is that "he is a
Will Rogers for the 90's."
Rogers, of course, is one of the most beloved of American humorists -- he was killed in
Sunshine Sketches is about Orillia, Ontario, Canada, where Leacock had his summer home
These stories about various personalities in town were printed in the local newspaper in the
Gradually, and this took decades, Orillians came to recognize that genius had walked
Leacock died when I was six, but I did know his son, who still lived in town. I delivered
But the book is more than Orillia; it is a wonderfully kind and humorous description of life in
Leacock realized the book was universal in its description of small towns, and in the preface
True enough, which gives this book continuing appeal nearly a century after it was written.
He says of his education, "I survived until I took the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in
In reviewing Charles Dickens' works in 1934, Leacock wrote what could well be his own
In contrast to the sometimes sardonic humor of modern times, Sunshine Sketches reflects
Granted, this book is not what he recognized to have widespread appeal to modern readers.
In today's world, where newspapers almost daily track Prime Minister Tony Blair's dash to
He described his own home as follows, "I have a large country house -- a sort of farm
It's what I mean by this being a timeless work.
Leacock himself noted, when talking about good literature, "Personally, I would sooner have
By all measures, it is still the finest Canadian book ever written.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful satire on small town life,
This review is from: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Mass Market Paperback)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. This is a wonderful parody of that can-do mentality that seems to infect us in North America. The work anticipates Lake Woebegone by some years, but has a distinctly Canadian feel. We've seen lots of works take mythical townspeople one by one, but I can think of few that do it as well and as simply as this one. This is a must read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, ironic, hilarious. Leacock is a 90's Will Rogers,
This review is from: Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Hardcover)Leacock's observations about people and community are devastatingly accurate and wonderfully recognizeable. The narrator captures the posturings and cozy delusions of small town life with the deadpan wit and irony of a Will Rogers for the nineties. The emperor stands there completely undressed and yet just as we turn to gloat with our fellow bystanders we feel the draft that alerts us to our own nakedness. Stephen Leacock, where have you been all my life?
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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Jack Hodgins (Mass Market Paperback - May 1 1989)
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