A Tiny Companion – “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” by Elizbaeth Tova Bailey
Imagine if your active and happy life had to stop for a few years, and you had to be bedridden due to a strange and unknown bacterial illness that destroyed your body?
Would you come out of it with a beautifully written book?
I probably wouldn’t – I’d probably cry a lot, eat ice cream, and watch movies until I dissolved.
This sad, yet uplifting, yet intelligent 2010 memoir details the months Tova Bailey had to spend in bed. Other than visits from friends and family, her sole companion during this time was a small snail brought in from the garden to live in one of her plants. As she can’t do much else, she observes this small being and becomes fascinated by it and it’s habits. With lots of free time on her hands, she gets some books on mollusks and begins to learn all about these tiny creatures and the world they live in.
In addition to being a stunning memoir, this book will also teach you a ton about snails. Did you know they’re hermaphroditic? Me neither. Also, they apparently breed like gangbusters – as the author finds herself with over 100 snails at one point. (Never fear – they’re let go into the wild.)
It’s easy to sympathize with Tova Bailey, without pitying her. While her body might be in a downward spiral, her mind is still active and inquisitive. I found it admirable that in a time of such hardship, she was able to channel her pain into not only a learning experience, but also into a wonderful and odd little book to be shared with the world.