For my 40th birthday, I was lucky enough to be given a gift voucher to spend at one of Brisbane’s independent book stores, Coaldrakes. I walked out with two books, David Byrne’s (Talking Heads), Bicycle Diaries and Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. I am certain that Bicycle Diaries will be an incredible read, in fact, I plan to take it overseas with me so that I can read his reflections on San Francisco while I am there, but it was Tova Bailey’s, Wild Snail that captivated me at first sight. I mean… that title, it had me right from the start. And as soon as I delved in, I was deep in her world, a world of mystery illness and a gentle forest snail.
Part memoir, part scientific study, part meditative journal on the connectedness of humans and the natural world, this is a book that I know I will carry with me forever. The writing is spell like in it’s ability to hold you. The language is spare and graceful, poetic in the way it is put together; each chapter opening with a quote or a poem about snails. Some of my favourite quotes come from the haiku masters, Buson & Issa, who wrote many poems about the humble snail.
In the last few days (particularly after a big weekend in the yard), I too, have penned a handful of snail haiku, as after reading this astonishing book, I have a new found respect for the snail.
a snail drags moonlight
up the wall
the clock ticks
its slow hours
following the snail’s wake
Here is a book trailer for The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating… this book just might change the way you see and hear the world.