Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating - Elisabeth Tova Bailey

If you saw one of your friends reading a book about a wild snail, it might cause you to do a double take.  Is that for real?  What on earth could you possibly find interesting about a sluggy creature that leaves slime in its wake?  I asked myself this question when it was first mentioned as a potential read for our book club.  But then I started hearing about it more and more, and I was able to get my hands on it at SIBA last year.  It is a cute little thing...it could fit right in your jacket pocket, with deckle edged paper And although I still didn't get it exactly, but at just over 200 pages, what did I have to lose?

Synopsis:  At the prime of her life, at the age of 34, Elisabeth Tova Bailey was sricken down by a mysterious virus picked up in Europe.  Bailey was completely incapacitated, where even rolling over from her right side to her left side took all of her strength.  She was forced to move from her home to a rehabiliation facility, her friends went on with their lives, and Bailey began to wonder if she would ever have a normal life again.

Then one day, a friend brought by a potted plant to cheer her up.  In the deathly silence of her room, Bailey heard munching noises and noticed that small holes had been eaten in her stationery at her bedside.  Lo and behold, she noticed a snail was living in her plant.  She began to study her new pet, and was fascinated with its daily activities, eating behavior, and adaptations to its environment.  Bailey began to worry about the welfare of the snail, and had it transferred to a terrarium, and began to draw strength and inspiration from its tiny little soul. 

My thoughts:  If my heart ever needed healing, I believe this gentle memoir would be just the thing to do it.  While Bailey is as debilitated as a human can be, the tone never seems whiny, just very sad for what she has lost and matter of fact.  The idea that a tiny creature, with its little eccentricities and determined personality, despite its size, can give a sick woman a reason to live?  The words just reach down into your heart and gives it a loving caress. 

And here was a shocker...snails are actually pretty cool.  Bailey does quite a bit of research on them in order to keep her little guy happy, and shares with us all kinds of bits of trivia.  Like if their shell gets cracked, they have a super glue-type fluid that patches things up.  Like their slime is a defense mechanism against their enemies.  How they lay eggs and tend them.  What they eat, that they are nocturnal.  Like which of their feelers does what.  It made me want one of my own.

And as you travel on this journey with the author, the snail not only lifts her up spiritually, so that she can have the desire and drive to heal, but it lifts you up as well.

4.5 out of 5 stars   

21 comments:

Melody said...

Interesting!
Honestly I don't give snails a second thought but after reading your review I'll have to look at them in a different light the next time.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

That has got to be one of the most surreal memoirs I've ever hear of :) The cover is lovely. How did you know about it?

Jeane said...

The only thing i know about snails is they eat my garden plants! so this sounds interesting, to say the least.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds like it would make a great gift for somebody going through a hard time (which is most of us, at one time or another!)

bermudaonion said...

I really liked this book too and wanted a pet snail while I read it. I really admire Bailey's attitude.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

I read this one, too, but just couldn't really get into it. I didn't hate it or anything, but it's definitely not one of my favorite memoirs.

reviewsbylola said...

First off, that virus sounds HORRIBLE. I can't even imagine. But anyway, the snail thing. It actually sounds kind of cool. I am definitely intrigued.

farmlanebooks said...

I love books that include these interesting facts about wild animals. The Spider Truces, The Behaviour of Moths, Leviathian etc. I can't imagine snails being that interesting, but I said the same thing about moths so I really should find out! Thanks for drawing this book to my attention!

Jenny said...

Haha I remember finding snails when I was little and making them "pets". You're right the title makes me very not interested in the book but it sounds wonderfully heart warming.

Ti said...

I like snails. I like them more when they are not chewing through my garden. I was going to say with garlic and butter but that would be crude! LOL.

What an interesting story though. I didn't think snails were loud enough to even be heard.

Darlene said...

You know this really sounds good. Lately I've found myself becoming more interested in memoirs.

Jenners said...

Wow! This sounds like a wonderfully charming and emotional book. Who would have thought that a snail could have inspired this? It just sounds lovely and real and like a must read. Thanks for telling me about it!

ds said...

This sounds wonderful. Attitude is everything, and even the smallest creature has something profound to show us. Powerful combination. Thanks for the fabulous review!

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

Oh I've heard such good things about this book but I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet. Glad you enjoyed it. And I absolutely adore the strange title.

Zibilee said...

After you told me about this one, I was determined to read it, and I still am. I find all those little tidbits about animals fascinating and don't actually know very much about snails, so this would be a cool read for me. Your review on it was excellent, thanks!

heidenkind said...

It's amazing what extreme boredom can do to a person. ;)

Amy said...

This book sounds fantastic! I'm glad you don't get 'whiny" at all while reading. It's an awful thing that happens to Elisabeth Bailey so I can only imagine how sad she was...she was really grieving for what she lost.

It's remarkable that a little snail inspires her and gives her the drive to go on. From the little bit I remeber about snail that are very interesting...

This is a wonderful review, Sandy! Thank you!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

So, did your book group decide to read it, too?

You had me at 'deckle edged' :)

quirky girls said...

I love the way you describe this book. Beautiful review.

-jehara

Michelle said...

Jen from Devourer of Books was raving about wanting to read this last year. It is on my wish list, but I keep forgetting the reasons for why it was there. Thank you for giving me the reminder I needed to finally get my hands on a copy and read what sounds like a food for the soul.

Kathleen said...

Sounds like an incredible read. How amazing that a small little thing like a snail could help this woman heal.