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.
- 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).