Wednesday, 29 August 2018


#AMREADING MARTHA BAILLIE, THE INCIDENT REPORT


When an incident happens in a library, the librarian must fill out a report. Baillie’s novel is a collection of reports that strays into memoir territory.
Incident Report 5, for example, is about morning anxiety. Every morning in the warmth of my bed, as I surface from sleep, fear –small as a cherry stone, cracks open behind my breastbone.
Incident Report 45 is about meeting a young man in the park, reading a children’s novel. If somebody had asked me, I would have said that a young man with a gentle expression and missing a finger, reading a children’s novel, resting before his next shift driving a taxi, was as good a person to fall in love with as anyone, but that I was not interested in more suffering. Yet she falls in love and suffers.
Suitcase Man, one of the regulars at the library, makes his appearance in several Incident Reports: He never borrows books, CDs or DVDs, never surfs the net or nervously taps messages, hunching over the keyboard, as the others do…He comes with one purpose only: to make multiple copies of the documents riding in his suitcase.
Sometimes he leaves behind notes. They all concern one subject: Verdi’s Rigoletto and the death of the hunchback’s daughter. She’s too young to know danger, one of his notes says. Ah, poor hunchback, with no right to happiness. But this time I won’t let any harm come to her. If one of those men should so much as touch a hair on her head, my gorgeous daughter with the freckled hands…I dropped the paper. I closed myself in the bathroom and stared at my hands. They were as they had always been – slim, pale and covered in freckles.

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