Sunday, May 30, 2010

Interlude: The Incident Report

A friend of mine lent me Martha Baillie's The Incident Report after hearing that I work at the public library. It is a book about Miriam Gordon, a "Public Service Assistant" who works at one of the Toronto Public Libraries. The entire book is comprised of incident reports that Miriam writes. I started the book on break while at work today (a fitting place to read it) and just finished it a few minutes ago.
When I first started reading the book, I liked it. The Incident Report starts out with a couple of incidents that I could really relate to, having worked in a public library for several years now. But then I hit a couple of "incidents" which weren't really incidents. They mostly involved Miriam's memories of her father, but later in the book moved onto her relationship with Janko. The memories of her father didn't seem to really fit, and so I became a bit more unsure of what I thought.
Overall though, the story kept me reading (as I said, I finished it in a day). Miriam starts to discover little notes left in the Children's Department referring to her. A patron has written about Miriam using references to the Opera Rigoletto, referencing her as his (with the patron as Rigoletto) daughter (Gilda). The notes seem to get increasingly threatening, saying that they will never be parted (quite unlike the opera). As these notes kept appearing, I really wanted to find out what would happen.
Miriam's relationship with Janko was also interesting to read. Written in incident reports as well, you only get little glimpses of what is happening; I thought this was rather well done.
Unfortunately, as the book drew to a close, I felt unsatisfied. There seemed to be too many questions left unanswered. So while this was a quick little read, I'm not really sure I'd recommend it to anyone. If you work or have worked in a library, you'll definitely be able to relate to The Incident Report. Otherwise, you might not really enjoy this. Of course, I am fully aware that this isn't really the type of book that I normally enjoy reading, so if you'd like a second opinion before making up your mind, check out the Globe and Mail review or check out the reviews and news on Baillie's own website (it is on the Giller Prize longlist).

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