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Alan Maitland reads 'Christmas Phantoms'

In 1974 Alan Maitland joined CBC Radio's As It Happens as co-host, and during that time he became known affectionately as Fireside Al and Front Porch Al, tempting listeners to pull up a chair to the fire or on the porch (depending on the season) and listen. He read stories by a long list of authors, and they were a delight for audiences, whether the story was a humorous or a poignant one. His reading of The Shepherd, by Frederick Forsythe, has become a Christmas Eve tradition on As It Happens.

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Alan Maitland, as Fireside Al, tells a chilling tale of Christmas by Maksim Gorky.  In Christmas Phantoms, a writer of fiction who has just completed his short story about Christmas finds that words can come to haunt you.

• Maksim Gorky was born Aleksey Masimovich Peshkov in Russia on Mar. 28, 1868, and died June 14, 1936.  He suffered a harsh childhood, leaving school for work at age eight, which influenced him in his choice of pseudonym.  "Gorky" translates as "bitter".

• Gorky began publishing stories in 1892, and met with early success.  He wrote a great deal about what he knew, which was a tramp's life.

• He became a Marxist, and sided with the Bolsheviks after the party split in 1903.  He and Lenin had differences, however, and he left Russia in 1906 bound for Italy.  He returned in 1913, but again disagreed with Lenin, who sent him into exile in 1921.  It was during this period that he wrote his autobiographical trilogy.  He returned in 1928, and the cause of his sudden death in 1936 has been the subject of much speculation.

Medium: Radio
Program: Fireside Al
Broadcast Date: Dec. 21, 1977
Narrator: Alan Maitland
Duration: 16:58
Photo: This image was in the public domain in Russia, but its status is unknown as of Sept. 2008.

Last updated: December 20, 2012

Page consulted on December 30, 2014

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