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The Incident Report

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  207 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
In a Toronto library, home to the mad and the marginalized, notes appear, written by someone who believes he is Rigoletto, the hunchbacked jester from Verdi’s opera. Convinced that the young librarian, Miriam, is his daughter, he promises to protect her from grief. Little does he know how much loss she has already experienced; or does he?

The Incident Report, both mystery a
Paperback, 195 pages
Published April 22nd 2009 by Pedlar Press
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Community Reviews

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Glenn Sumi
Mar 01, 2015 Glenn Sumi rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
You won't enter a Toronto public library in the same way after reading Martha Baillie's haunting new novel, set in a fictional branch in Allan Gardens.

The Incident Report consists of 144 reports, some long and detailed, others haiku-like in their suggestive minimalism. They're all filed by Miriam Gordon, a librarian in her mid-30s whose cautious and detached demeanour make her an objective report-taker. Initially, that is.

Then she meets Janko, a mysterious cab driver/artist from Slovenia, who be
Amanda Vance
Sep 25, 2010 Amanda Vance rated it really liked it
"Many incidents occur in public libraries,
and when one does the librarian in charge
is required to fill out the necessary forms..."

The Incident Report begins with this quote along with an example of a library incident report, setting the tone for the rest of the story. The book is broken up into individual incidents, which taken together, tell the story of Miriam's life. Library incidents intertwine with incidents within her life, past and present to give a feeling of who Miriam is and how seemin
Jan 26, 2011 Anne rated it liked it
I discovered this book when meeting Baillie at our local farmer's market, which we attend each Saturday. Baillie had the only 'wares' that were in book form, and was a total quirkball delight to chat with.

Toronto's Pedlar Press is run by one woman in her house, and sheesh, does she ever create elegant books - the paper weight on this one was lovely.

Anyone who's ever worked in a public library must read this book to find solidarity and deep humor. Anyone who hasn't ever worked in a public librar
Jason Pettus
Mar 31, 2011 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

This is now my second book from the exquisite small Canadian publisher Pedlar Press, after Jacob Wren's Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed; and this is just as impressive as that one, a poetically beautiful text but with quite a dark streak as well, in this case centered around a Toronto pub
Aug 03, 2010 Cindy rated it liked it
I picked this up at the library firstly because of the fine paper it is printed on (a rare delight), and secondly because of its novel concept of telling the story. The book uses 144 incident reports like the ones which Toronto Public Library workers fill out to report notable and questionable incidents at the library (like patrons who remove all the books off a shelf, or men who beckon to patrons from outside the library’s windows).

I found this format perfect for the main character Miriam’s de
Jun 04, 2010 Danya rated it really liked it
Anyone who currently works, wants to work, or has worked in a public library needs to read this book. Entirely made up of "incident reports," this is the story of Miriam Gordon, who works at the service desk in the Toronto Public Library. Miriam's reports chronicle her day-today encounters with customers, which encompass the hilariously inappropriate, disturbing and the poignant. From the man who sits on the floor and obsessively stacks books, to the Lavendar Woman who rants to Miriam about Amer ...more
Jul 03, 2014 TinHouseBooks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Jakob Vala (Graphic Designer): Martha Baillie’s novel The Incident Report is structured as brief reports written by Miriam, a librarian in Toronto. The plot involves romance and mystery, but so far the most compelling bits are Miriam’s descriptions of the library’s odd patrons, which remind me (for better or worse) of my twelve years as a clerk in a small-town bookstore. [Editor's Note: Matha Baillie's upcoming novel The Search for Heinrich Schlogel will be published by Tin House in September, 2 ...more
David Dacosta
Sep 28, 2013 David Dacosta rated it really liked it
What constitutes a novel? Well, Martha Baillie has constructed something that shatters that traditional notion. The Incident Report reads like a series of diary entries by a peculiar librarian. Four plus years ago, a favorable review of this book appeared in an alternative Toronto weekly – Now magazine – and piqued my curiosity. Shortly thereafter, I searched the library database with no luck. The title hadn’t been purchased yet, so I settled for Baillie’s previous novel The Shape I Gave You. I ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Rosemary rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who like books that are downers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2010 Corey rated it it was amazing
It would not do to go into too much detail, as much of the joy of The Incident Report comes from placing the pieces together, getting a picture of Miriam's fragility and strength only through glimpses into her reactions. The rest of the novel's delight lies in Baillie's precise construction of sentences, her wordplay and imagery delicately balancing Miriam's wistful view of the world with its harsher realities. Phrases such as "I lowered my eyes to the computer screen and read, but the words had ...more
What an odd little book. At first I was confused by the poetic language and personal tone of the security incident reports, until I figured out that the librarian is using them as a sort of private diary, recording past memories, snippets of her time with her lover, and daily interactions with colorful patrons and keeping these "incidents" in her desk. One of the library's regular members is convinced that he is the opera character Rigoletto and that the librarian is his long lost daughter, whom ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it
1. pedlar press 2. a novel made of library incident reports 3. 5 star cclap review
you tell me what's not to like?
clever, affecting novel of a women taking the chance to reach out to other people, specifically taking a lover after many years a solitary. Intertwined with her story are incident reports she has made at her job as a librarian, reports of all the crazy, nice, vile, and ridiculous people who use public libraries. The ultimate question i see author is asking is if we reach out to other
Oct 12, 2011 Vicki rated it really liked it
Emotion wells up quickly from the supposedly dry and clinical reports of day-to-day occurrences at a downtown Toronto library. Written by a frustrated and depressed but conscientious young woman, the ostensible reports trace both fond and troubled memories from her childhood, and bring her to the awakening and possibilities of happiness in her present life. Longlisted for the 2009 Giller Prize, Baillie's novel is populated by fleeting but poignant portraits of people finding solace and sanctuary ...more
Kit A.
Jan 16, 2010 Kit A. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: library staff
Shelves: fiction
Required reading for anybody who has worked or is currently working in a library! The narrative is told through a series of numbered incident reports, which are structured more like mini chapters. While I agree that the main character, Miriam, an employee at the Allan Gardens branch of the Toronto Public Library, can seem emotionless at times, I found her dry and subtle humour added so much to the challenging and absurd situations at the library. Her patience and diplomacy in handling difficult ...more
Jun 04, 2012 Carole rated it really liked it
This was a very clever book, probably 3.5 stars but I decided to be generous and round it up. The author uses a gimmick to tell the story but she does it in such a way that the gimmick does not overshadow the narrative. The narrator works in a public library in Toronto and tells the story through a series of "incident reports" that reflect the day-to-day weirdness of working in this environment. She also uses these "reports" to tell the story of her love affair which she obviously would not incl ...more
Nov 17, 2014 Hpnyknits rated it it was amazing
A wonderful little book with poem like episodes/ incidents that happen in a Toronto library. With just a few words- she captured a life of each person.
It's a book that does not aim to preach or educate, just observe. Sometimes funny sometimes sad.
Feb 23, 2014 NightAuditMan rated it liked it
This was another random pick-up at my local value village. I'm quite glad I grabbed it though.

The title jumped out at me while scanning the selves. It reminded me of Mr. Ludlums' work. Once in my hands the very fine cover and even greater paper stock stood out as different. The fact that the back cover had nothing about the book was intriguing. Then to find out that the copy was signed by the author....even better.

The format of the book (namely a series of random reports that somewhat tells a s
Amy Arsenault
Feb 14, 2014 Amy Arsenault rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book. I liked the layout with the incident reports and how there were descriptions of interesting incidents; Everyday life in the library. The incidents were not over the top and were believable. I couldn't put it down because I wanted to know what the next weird happening would be. I've always loved books that describe every day life like this instead of focusing much on a plot. The main character seemed pretty monotone and boring but I believe that was absolutely done o ...more
Jan 08, 2010 Kyla rated it liked it
It's hard not to like a book set at a library and made up of incident reports that librarians have to follow. It should be handed out to all SILS entrants as a deterrent and warning as to what serving the public really means...
Jul 16, 2016 Codex rated it it was ok
Actual rating: 2.5.

A strange and rather weird book, comprising a collection of reported library incidents and snippets from the narrator’s own life. The mostly impassive narrative created a surreal atmosphere, tending towards a disconnected apathy that could at times be unsettling.


“My father did not read the books he collected. Whereas many men drink, he eased his anguish by purchasing books. He imagined that his collection might one day acquire an immense value. Not that he planned to se
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dani Peloquin
May 11, 2012 Dani Peloquin rated it really liked it
When I first finished this book, I was speechless (which is rare for me). I stumbled upon this novel while in a bookstore in Canada and thought that the premise was interesting so I bought a copy. I had no idea how impressive such a slim book could be. I rarely keep books after I finish reading them, however, this book will have a permanent place on my bookshelf for future re-readings and re-re-readings.

Author Mariam Baillie tells the story of Miriam, a public librarian in the city of Toronto. M
Jeff Raymond
Apr 30, 2014 Jeff Raymond rated it really liked it
My tolerance for experimental fiction is admittedly low, and I didn't know that The Incident Report was that type of book going in. That's okay, though, because it's actually pretty good.

The story follows the life of a librarian through various branch incident reports. Between the tales of different patrons and their activities (man, that takes me back...) is a tale of some creepy, perhaps mentally-imbalanced stalking.

The story is a fairly fast one, a many of the almost 200 pages only have a co
May 15, 2012 Sara rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, in-libraries
If you work in a library or any other service-based industry, you are probably familiar with incident reports — detailed written reports that must be completed whenever a disturbance or criminal act occurs during your work hours. This novel by Martha Baillie is narrated by a library clerk, Miriam, in the form of reports regarding both library and personal incidents. Captured in these reports are unruly and ill-behaved patrons of all sorts — and those of you who have worked in libraries can attes ...more
Shonna Froebel
Dec 22, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
This novel has an intriguing format. With the narrator, Miriam, an employee of the Public Libraries of Toronto, in the Allan Gardens branch, the book begins with a form used by the library to report on incidents that take place in the library. The rest of the book is in the form of short (sometimes very short) incident reports that consist of descriptions of events that take place in the library, in her personal life, or in her past. It was a very different way to tell a story and yet it worked ...more
Carly Svamvour
Aug 31, 2011 Carly Svamvour rated it it was amazing
This is being discussed at the High Park Library on the 2nd Wednesday in September.

August 31st - I finished it. The book is a fast, smooth read. A day to day account of a librarian's life. Just loved it.

This book is going to sit in my mind as 'something special'. Not because I identify in any way with the vocation of librarian but because it's a 'first' for me.

It is the first time I've fully understood what it means when a book can be classified as 'literature'.

The other day I read somewhere tha
Jul 21, 2013 Dana rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Not sure how I feel about this story. An unusual way of telling a story which I appreciated. Through incident reports, a librarian records the strange and the possibly dangerous patrons she encounters at the library, including communications from someone who thinks he's Rigoletto. These communications remind Miriam, the librarian, of her long gone father. The other half of the story, also told in incident forms, is Miriam's story, her memories, her job and a man. There is a distance between the ...more
Doriana Bisegna
Nov 09, 2013 Doriana Bisegna rated it liked it
All my life, I regretted not having studied Library Sciences to become a librarian. I realized too late that that would have been the ultimate profession for me. After reading The Incident Report, I no longer regret my decision...LOL!! This is one of those strange, quirky, bizarre novels I have read in a while and yet it was wonderful! I chuckled throughout, all the while being amazed by Baillie's vivid imagination in creating an endless supply of strange individuals that enter this library. In ...more
Oct 27, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it
This is a very quick read. It's interesting, devastating, and mysterious all at the same time. This was recently released in ebook form for the first time by Tin House.
Joseph Romain
Sep 17, 2014 Joseph Romain rated it really liked it
If you have ever worked in a library, you will recognize the experience in this witty and charming story.
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Martha Baillie was born in Toronto, in 1960, and educated in a French-English bilingual school. At seventeen she left for Scotland where she studied history and modern languages (French and Russian) at the University of Edinburgh.

She completed her studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Toronto. While at university, Baillie became involved in theatre.

She continued to act after gr
More about Martha Baillie...

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