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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912)

by Stephen Leacock

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6671124,879 (3.83)62
Affectionately combining both the idyllic and ironic, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is as fresh, funny and insightful today as when it was first published in 1912. 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. This is Stephen Leacock at his best.… (more)
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» See also 62 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is a look at life in a small Canadian town in the turn of the century (19th and 20th). It is told in a series of vignettes highlighting different members of the community. While Leacock is telling the reader the story of Mariposa, it could be any small town. I am sure the characters and situations would be familiar to those in small towns all over North America, and I believe that was Leacock's intention. He tells their stories with humor, often highlighting the character's weaknesses with affection. Leacock does a wonderful job of reminding readers why they left their own small towns, but also why they will always remember their time there fondly. ( )
  Cora-R | Jul 30, 2019 |
Too sweet and simple really, more like a children's book. ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
This was pure unadulterated satirical fun. The title tells you what to expect. The collection of vignettes is full of small town characters that could be found anywhere in America, and apparently in Canada, at any time from the late 19th century right up to the present time. You might have to look harder for them these days, but I know they are still out there, seeing the world from their front porches and bar stools rather than through the lenses of the Big Guys in the City. Every ordinary little episode is laced with cleverness and affectionate humor. My favorite by far was the disastrous (but routine) sinking of the excursion steamer on Lake Wissanoti, with about half the town aboard. Picture the Mariposa Belle settling comfortably to the bottom of the six-foot deep lake, and its passengers handily snatching their would-be rescuers from unseaworthy rowboats and dinghies in "one of the smartest pieces of rescue work ever seen on the lake." You might think of Mark Twain, or Garrison Keillor, while reading this. ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Feb 10, 2016 |
"I don't know whether you know Mariposa. If not, it is of no consequence, for if you know Canada at all, you are probably well acquainted with a dozen towns just like it."

This book is widely regarded as a classic example of Canadian literature. Its reputation as a funny book is also well known, given that its author is the namesake of an award for humour writing. But does it live up to the hype? After all, it was published over 100 years ago; humour can change a lot in that length of time. Fortunately, wry humour is relatively timeless. Leacock relates the adventures (or non-adventures) of the denizens of Mariposa with a flair for the dramatic and tongue firmly lodged in cheek. It's based at least in part on Leacock's experiences in the town of Orillia, Ontario, which has since adopted the name of the Sunshine City in tribute. However, residents of small towns across Canada might recognize a few of the characters as living in their own towns.

This was a book where, at the end of a chapter, I would say "That has to be my favourite chapter." Then I would read the next chapter and say "No, that's my favourite chapter." And so on. Each story is self-contained, making it a very good book to read on the bus or as a bedside book, and each showcases a different character or set of characters. My favourite stories were the ones where a minor event was blown completely out of proportion by the townspeople, such as "The Mariposa Bank Mystery" and the classic "The Marine Excursion of the Knights of Pythias", with honourable mention to "The Great Election in Missinaba County" for making me laugh lightheartedly about politics for a change (as opposed to cynically).

If you like books set in small towns, or the early days of Canada, then you should check out this book. The recent CBC adaptation, featuring Gordon Pinsent as the elder Stephen Leacock, is also well worth looking into. ( )
1 vote rabbitprincess | Jan 17, 2014 |
Published in 1912, the sketches are a Canadian Classic. An example that a tragedy or a comedy is dependant on the attitude of the audience. Everyone would have liked to live in Mariposa, but we increasingly do not get the chance. Both Twain and Leacock are describing towns of their youth, so the audience is somewhat insulated from the experiences described. Useful comic patina is laid on but the pain still apparent .
After all that analysis, this is fun to read, and I have twice. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Nov 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Leacockprimary authorall editionscalculated
SethIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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I don't know whether you know Mariposa.
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Even more effective, perhaps, were Mr. Smith's secret benefactions, the kind of giving done by stealth of which not a soul in town knew anything, often, for a week after it was done
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Affectionately combining both the idyllic and ironic, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is as fresh, funny and insightful today as when it was first published in 1912. 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. This is Stephen Leacock at his best.

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