Wednesday, January 27, 2010

BOOK: The Incident Report by Martha Baillie

The Incident Report by Martha Baillie, 197 pages

Bibliophilic Challenge; Giller Longlist 2009

This quiet book snuck up on me and was a delightful little read. Miriam, a librarian in a downtown Toronto library, writes her reports, 144 in all, that chronicle her lonely life, and events from the library. Lots of interesting characters, many seemingly disturbed or maybe just a little off, cause Miriam to refer often to the Manual for Conduct for Encounters with Difficult Patrons. (As an aside, more jobs should have manuals like that!)

Miriam's narrative voice was controlled, and careful, and hints as the way she tries to control her life. Gradually, the reports begin to include more of her sad past, and the more hopeful present. The writing was lyrical and poetic, and the fact that so much happened, spoken and unspoken, is surprising to me, after the fact. I am amazed, really, at how much story happened in such a short time, so many vivid characters described, and how much Miriam said by not saying it.

I'm making this the first entry in the Bibliophilic challenge, though while not strictly about books, it is about libraries and librarians, which is about reading. As a bonus, it's epistolary, a favorite style of writing. It certainly isn't going to cause anyone to decide to be a librarian - it's made me think about all the people in society who use the library.

also reviewed by:
melwyk the indextrious Reader


  1. This looks fun! I am always on the lookout for epistolary novels. :) People just do not write enough epistolary novels.

  2. jenny - I completely agree! Epistolary novels are so much fun.

  3. Wow, sounds like just the book for me! :)

  4. Glad you enjoyed it! I agree, it probably wouldn't serve as useful recruitment literature for the profession of public librarian - but it is uncanny how recognizable many of the types of incidents are to anyone who has worked in a library system for a while.


Thanks for commenting, so nice of you to visit.

(I'll try without the letters for a while - so please dont be a spammer! Let's try no anonymous users)