Canada's CBC radio service has been broadcasting a reading of Frederick Forsyth's The Shepherd for many years. It has become something of a tradition throughout Canada. It is usually broadcast at 6:30 Christmas Eve, but the file has been posted to their podcast site. (mp3 about 31 minutes)
Ron Carlson's holiday short story.. The reading is from Selected Shorts and unfortnately the high quality version on their site isn’t available. Something more AM quality was captured and will stream from Soundcloud.
If the first line doesn't draw you in, nothing will...
Although I'm a huge fan of John McPhee, my candidate for the best piece to appear in The New Yorker is Lillian Ross' portrait of Ernest Hemingway. It had been recommended to me many times over the years and I finally looked it up in the library when I was in grad school. There have been many outstanding pieces - it one has to be at or near the top.
The question came up again recently. How do You like it Now, Gentleman? is outside their paywall. It has been years - decades - since I last read it, and it is still great.
Kullervo's tale is just one of 50 songs in the Kalevala, an epic of 22,795 verses telling the story of the Sampo, a magical object that bestows power on whoever possesses it. Tolkien used numerous plot elements from the Kalevala in his own novels - a powerful magical object, incest, battles between brothers, and orphan heroes setting out on quests.
"Kullervo is the origin story for Shakespeare's Hamlet - a young man whose uncle kills his father and on whom he wreaks a terrible vengeance," says Verlyn Flieger. "It is likely that Tolkien knew that Shakespeare had used this tale."
In The Silmarillion (begun in 1914, but only published after his death), Tolkien turns Kullervo into Turin Turambar, the warrior hero.
"I think he liked the Kalevala because it has both high and low elements," suggests Tolkien-biographer Prof John Garth from the University of Nevada. "There are clodhopping idiots, treated in a really down-to-earth, anti-heroic way. In Tolkien's own fiction, he creates totally different moods. The hobbits are very relatable, very friendly; and then the elves are much more remote."