When Joyce recommended Elisabeth Tova Bailey's The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, I reserved it not because I felt particularly interested, but because we generally like to read similar things. It has captivated me for the past two days, so much so that I read-walked with it around Snail Lake this morning. I mentally marked pages and passages I wanted to recall and record when I got home (pages 57, 61, 101) and even stopped to read aloud the passage on page 57 (about the author's imaginings of what humans would be like if our arms possessed the same scent-detection skills as a snail's tentacles do) to my friend Sheri and her walking partner.
The author contracted a rare disease, eventually diagnosed as autoimmune dysautonomia and later mitochondrial disease, that left her unable to stand, sit, or care for herself in any meaningful way. While she convalesces, a friend brings her a snail and a wild violet, both transplanted to a pot that rests on a chest by her bed. Her observations of the snail's habits and preferences led her to read volumes about snails. The two are merged in this wonderfully written narrative that spans a year of her twenty-year illness. Facts abound. I found myself reading and re-reading so my brain could absorb the incredible things she discovered and uncovered about snails.
I must keep it a few days before returning it to the library.