Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review: The Incident Report

I came across Toronto writer Martha Baillie's The Incident Report while browsing on  I'm not sure which book I was originally looking at when I scrolled down to the "Customers who bought this item also bought..." section. I love that section and as I mentioned in a comment response to my mom the other day, this is how I find MANY books!!

The Incident Report begins with a number of blank Incident Report Forms and goes on to 144 Incident Reports. When I initially saw that this was going to be in report format I almost put the book down, because I wasn't looking to read separate short stories. It's a good thing I forged ahead because this was an interesting read.

The 144 incident reports are more like short stories, written from the perspective of Miriam, a librarian at the Allen Garden's branch of the Public Libraries of Toronto (or TPL in real life) but there are a number of different plot lines weaved throughout. What we first see are the library's many users, the "regulars" like Suitcase Man, and then simply "a female patron"-these characters show us how working at the library can bring in many different characters-and how not everyone that uses the library is interested simply in books. Another involves the interactions and relationships between colleagues, while yet another allows entry into the Miriam's childhood, specifically her relationship with her father. We learn of one patron's infatuation with Rigoletto (form the Opera) and his almost stalker like actions of leaving notes related to both the opera and to Miriam that is definitely creepy! We also follow Miriam as she falls in love with Janko, a Slovenian painter who is relegated to driving a cab in Canada. 

Baillie's use of 144 Incident Reports is fairly unique, and definitely refreshing. This format (and length-195 not always full pages) made for a very quick read-basically my subway ride to and from work on Friday!! Not only was it quick, it was interesting. I liked reading about the unusual things people do when they come into the library. For me that was the best part. I love the library, and although I largely frequent the online presence of the library for hold requests I do pck up my materials at the Spadina branch. After three years of in and out of the Spadina branch, I can recognize a few people that aren't there just for the book. I often wonder what's your story-and now I wonder, what do tihe librarians think and what are your interactions like?!?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.