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What could be more Canadian than the confluence of literature and hockey. I was in Midland, ON, earlier this week as part of IFOA Ontario, the International Festival of Authors' new road trip. As I hunkered down to do an on-stage interview with two wonderful writers of wildly variant styles and themes -- Canadian Miriam Toews, who needs no intro here, and Brit Sarah Hall, already multiply honoured and assuredly bound for more -- I could hear unmistakably icy sounds emanating from the adjoining hockey rink. It was oddly comforting -- and relaxing.

A night earlier, apparently, the readers were accompanied by the sounds of a tribute band called Almost Abba.

"Sure, and I'm almost Faulkner," quipped Scottish novelist James Meek.

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