Sunshine Sketches Of A Little Town by Stephen Leacock
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.
Amusing and charming even after 100 years. The little town of Mariposa is so welcoming, the characters so recognizable, its streets so warm and its lifestyle so accommodating. It makes me long for bygone times; can you miss something you never had?
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.
From the preface:
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.