The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Each evening the snail awoke and with astonishing poise moved gracefully to the rim of the pot and peered over, surveying, once again, the strange country that lay ahead. Pondering its circumstance with a regal air, as if from the turret of a castle, it waved its tentacles first this way and then that, as though responding to a distant melody.

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a gentle, slow, sweet book.

A book for savouring.

A book that I would like to read all over again – this time an actual physical book, not just the e-book the library lent me. Don’t get me wrong – I very much enjoy e-books, their immediacy, their availability, their readability (yes, readability, you read that right – with a 14-month-old in the house, reading on an iPhone is better than not reading at all! Wee reader loves to turn pages, especially those not of board books, so put one of my books on a sofa and he’ll head straight to it, patting the pages, turning them).

Anyway, back to the book. Elisabeth Tova Bailey (an alias) was travelling in Europe when she was struck by some mysterious illness that left her with severe neurological symptoms and resulted in being bedridden. On a visit, a friend brings some flowers and a snail. And Bailey is struck by this little snail, which wanders off the flower pot and down the crate at night, and as her interest in gastropods grows, she reads more about their history, lifestyle, habits, and observes her little friend as it slides and glides its way to her – and her readers’ – hearts. Who would have thought that a little book about a little creature could say so much?

“I listened carefully. I could hear it eating. The sound was of someone very small crunching celery continuously. I watched, transfixed, as over the course or an hour the snail meticulously ate an entire purple petal for dinner.”

There are some photos of her terrarium and gorgeous garden here and an interesting slide/talk by the author, complete with sound recording of a snail eating here.


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