20 September 2012

What's in a Name challenge review: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elizabeth Tova Bailey

No sooner hand I finished the previous review when I picked up the next book in the challenge and read it through in a single sitting. It was that fascinating and that good.

This is my fifth and second-to-last book of the challenge, the creepy crawly (a snail), and the only one so far that has not been on my TBR list. Just to be clear, the TBR books are the ones I have owned for over a year. 

The reason I didn't choose a TBR book for this category was simple: I only have one unread book about creepy-crawlies that fits the plus-one-year rule, and it's a reference book as thick as a telephone directory that I have no intention of reading from cover to cover. 

The author was struck by a mysterious illness while on holiday in Europe and the outcome was a debilitating condition that made her an invalid. Stuck in a cycle of slight recoveries and violent relapses, she was bound to her bed when a friend brought her a pot of wild violets and a forest snail. She began observing the snail and noting its behaviour and drawing parallels between her own condition and that of the snail, sometimes wishing she was a snail.

The book is a beautifully written observation, not only of the snail, but of the human condition and the author's situation as someone who was (and presumably still is) unable to enjoy full mobility, showing how a small thing like a snail could make her forget her own condition for a while and become totally invested in something else. It also contains much information about snails, along with a number of interesting quotations relating to snails, and a juicy bibliography at the back that should satisfy even the most avid amateur malacologist.

Highly recommended. 5+ stars.

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