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
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
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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