Sunshine Sketches of A Little TownBook - 2006
Stephen Leacock was one of the bestselling English-language humorists in the world. Referred to as "The Canadian Mark Twain," his most famous book was Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town , published in 1912.
Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town , which first appeared as a newspaper serial, chronicles life in the fictional community of Mariposa, modelled on Orillia, Ontario, where Leacock spent many summers. It's a brilliant satire about small towns, small-town people, and small-town occurrences.
Life in Mariposa is never dull or ordinary. It's a town full of eccentrics, where boats sent to rescue passengers from a sinking steamer have to be rescued themselves, where the leading citizen is a 280-pound illiterate saloonkeeper, and where a barber who stumbles into a fortune is heralded as a financial wizard.
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Very soon after graduation I had forgotten the languages [I studied], and found myself intellectually bankrupt. In other words I was what is called a distinguished graduate, and, as such, I took to school teaching as the only trade I could find that needed neither experience nor intellect. I spent my time from 1891 to 1899 on the staff of Upper Canada College, an experience which has left me with a profound sympathy for the many gifted and brilliant men who are compelled to spend their lives in the most dreary, the most thankless, and the worst paid profession in the world. I have noted that of my pupils, those who seemed laziest and the least enamoured of books are now rising to eminence at the bar, in business, and in public life; the really promising boys who took all the prizes are now able with difficulty to earn the wages of a clerk in a summer hotel or a deck hand on a canal boat.
How the fire started no one ever knew. There was a queer story that went about to the effect that Mr. Smith and Mr. Gingham’s assistant had been seen very late that night carrying an automobile can of kerosene up the street. But that was amply disproved by the proceedings of the court, and by the evidence of Mr. Smith himself. He took his dying oath,—not his ordinary one as used in the License cases, but his dying one,—that he had not carried a can of kerosene up the street, and that anyway it was the rottenest kind of kerosene he had ever seen and no more use than so much molasses. So that point was settled.
Mallory Tompkins was a young man with long legs and check trousers who worked on the Mariposa Times-Herald. That was what gave him his literary taste. He used to read Ibsen and that other Dutch author – Bumstone Bumstone, isn’t it? – and you can judge that he was a mighty intellectual fellow. He was so intellectual that he was, as he himself admitted, a complete eggnostic. He and Pupkin used to have the most tremendous arguments about creation and evolution, and how if you study at a school of applied science you learn that there’s no hell beyond the present life.
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