Review: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Recommended for: People who liked The Butterfly and the Diving Bell or Salt
I picked up this quiet little book at the library because I could not pass up the title. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating just intrigued me the way The Elegance of the Hedgehog did. On top of that it was a short book, not even 200 pages.
Bailey’s voice is what comes through most. This is a true story. It’s more than just information about snails. It’s about the idea of slowing down and watching. It’s also about the isolation of illness.
Bailey suffers from a nasty little autoimmune disorder that kept her bedridden. She was living in a studio apartment rather than her home so that she could be close to treatment. One of her friends brought her some flowers from the backyard and included a little snail.
This random gift of a pet set off a chain of research and observation that turned into a lovely little book. It’s part meditation on the reality of illness and connection to the world, and part detailed information about wild snails. I learned a lot of things. For instance, did you know that not all snail mucous is alike? I didn’t. I also didn’t know that they could send a mix of healing mucous to different areas of their bodies. I also didn’t know they had kin relationships.
There is an amazing amount of knowledge hidden in this slender little set of essays. I’ve recommended it to at least five people already and now I’m recommending it to all of you. Go read it.
ED: Crossposted on Goodreads