Another Sunday in which I participate in the Sunday Sentence Project (#SundaySentence on Twitter):
“The right thing to do is to do nothing, the place to do it is in a place of concealment and the time to do it is as often as possible.”
found in The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, but originally from Tony Cook’s The Biology of Terrestrial Molluscs
I read about this book first in Brigitte Woman, a German women’s magazine I subscribe to, and I was intrigued: A bed-ridden writer finds companionship in a wild snail that a friend bestowed on her in a pot of violets. This book is the ultimate contemplation on focusing on the minute and the essentials of life, and that’s what I found attractive.
We discussed briefly to read it in my Advanced Memoir class, but too many students were grossed out. I was a bit, too. I find slugs revolting (I grew up in a country where they are truly a plague), and while snails with a shell are more aesthetic, there remained an ick factor. A wonderful student then gave me the book as a gift because she read it and really liked it, and so I finally read it this week.
I was tickled that the narrator, in her quest to learn more about the life of snails, quoted one of my favorite memoirists, Gerald Durrell and his work. He was the first writer to get me reading about all the small creatures on this planet. I have to admit there were parts I skipped over because I’m not enough of a naturalist, and learning about the reproductive habits of a snail simply grosses me out. Nevertheless, Bailey’s book is so unusual that it transcends the ick factor, at least enough for me to finish it and to worry about its human narrator and her little pet snail. So, if you’re more of a naturalist than I am, you will love it. And even if you’re not but you love memoir, it’s worth your while as a study of an unusual form of memoir.