The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

Genre: nonfiction/nature writing/memoir

I read it as a(n): hardback

Length: 190 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

When the author, Elisabeth Tova Bailey, is suddenly struck by a debilitating illness, she finds herself bedridden. One day, a visiting friend brings her a pot of flowers and a snail. At first, she was like “WTF? A snail?” but then discovers that there are many fascinating things about her weird little companion. Over the course of a year, Bailey observes and learns about her snail, even getting to witness some things not even a lot of snail scientists have seen. 

I never would have expected to get attached to a snail. But I did. I worried that the snail would die throughout the whole book, thinking it would get out and wander off and dry out, or die. I didn’t know they can live for years. Or that they have like a zillion teeth! Or that they really fucking love mushrooms. 

The writing style of this book was interesting. It mirrored the snail’s slow but steady speed while simultaneously making you feel a little bit stuck like the author was trapped in her sickbed. It was never boring but it was definitely a slower-paced book. It was also a very beautifully written book that imbued feeling into every passage with a simple observation about a falling leaf, or a hole eaten into a paper, or a snail’s tentacles waving at something new. 

Favorite lines:

  • Every few days I watered the violets from my drinking glass, and the excess water seeped into the dish beneath. This always woke the snail. It would glide to the rim of the pot and look over, slowly waving its tentacles in apparent delight, before making its way down to the dish for a drink (17-18).
  • Despite its small size, the snail was a fearless and tireless explorer (25).
  • A single portobello was about fifty times larger than my snail, and so my caregiver cut a generous slice and placed it in the terrarium. The snail loved the mushroom. It was so happy to have a familiar food, after weeks of nothing but wilted flowers, that for several days it slept right next to the huge piece of portobello… (29-30).

“…The Common Ties of Humanity…:” 20th Century Lessons from More’s Utopia and Roddenberry’s Star Trek

Throwback Thursday meets fandom and academia. I was cleaning out a bunch of old files on my computer and found a paper I wrote when I was a little baby undergrad many moons ago. I am amused. LOL. And yes, it was still the 20th century when I wrote it. I am an old.

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Image copyright watschi, posted on https://www.designcrowd.com/community/contest.aspx?id=1673030

Is it possible for two men who lived 400 years apart to have similar premonitions of the possibilities human society could achieve? Although there is no way to tell for sure, seems that Thomas More, author of Utopia, and Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, both had such visions. The society of the 24th century that Roddenberry so vividly brought to life and the society of the Utopians are both ideal cultures and are similar to each other in many ways. They also have some contrasts as well. Despite the few differences between the two works, Star Trek and Utopia both paint very realistic descriptions of an idyllic society that humanity may one day attain.Read More »

River of Teeth

31445891._sy475_River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (website, Twitter)

Her Grace’s rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Genre: alternative history

I read it as a: paperback

Source: my own collection

Length: 173 pp

Published by: Tor (23 May 2017)

Sarah Gailey’s novella, River of Teeth, finds its origins in a little known yet true bill Congress had considered passing in the 1800s. This bill would have imported hippos to the Louisiana bayous to breed as an alternate meat source to cattle. As the publisher’s blurb says, this was a terrible idea. Lucky for us, it clearly didn’t happen. In this alternate history, though, it did, and now shit’s about to get real. Some hippos in the novella’s past had escaped their farms and bred and expanded indiscriminately throughout the area. These feral hippos are tremendously dangerous and like to eat people. (Trying real hard here not to make a comment about how hungry the hippos were since I’m sure it’s been said many times. They were hungry…hungry hippos.)

Former hippo farmer and mercenary hippo wrangler, Winslow Houndstooth, is hired to herd these feral hippos out of the bayou and into a safer, contained region. If they are successful, he and his crew will make a fortune and Houndstooth will get revenge for a past wrong done to him. 

This book was so much fun! I love historical history, but not so much alternative history…unless it is one like this. Gailey pulled off an engaging, boisterous tale with complex characters, complete with their own motives, skills, and backgrounds. Houndstooth was the primary character, but the others were extremely well developed, particularly given that the story was so short. 

One thing I really loved was how diverse the cast of characters is. Men and women work alongside each other nicely (mostly), there are characters of color, nonbinary characters, LGBTQ characters, a woman who is about to become a single mother by choice. So many different people are represented and I fucking love it!

Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a fast, fun, diverse read. 

 

100 Word Trek

I felt like writing a Star Trek something, but didn’t want to go all-out, nor did I feel like writing an actual fan fiction. So I did a drabble, and challenged myself to write only 100 words. No more, no less. It was kind of fun. Here it is.Read More »

Trigger Warning

I adore Neil Gaiman. I love his vivid imagery, the subtlety of the stories, the unique way he has of seeing the world. He himself is awesome as well, and is someone I would love to have a beer with. Here is a wonderful interview of Neil on the Diane Rehm show. She is painful to listen to, but thankfully he is not. I loved his discussion about being read to, how adults never get stories read to them anymore and it’s tragic. I agree entirely with his comments that it is odd to put trigger warnings on literature, especially literature for adults.

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2015-02-19/neil_gaiman_trigger_warning
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