by Brad Nelson 5/14/14
I ran across this book by chance. “Eclectic” is how you could describe my taste in music (anything but rap and opera). The same is somewhat true of the books I like to read. And this is one of them.
It’s the true story of Elisabeth Tova Bailey who was struck with an illness in her mid-thirties that left her bedridden for months at a time. That certainly doesn’t sound like the material for an interesting or uplifting book. But there is little self-pity regarding her illness. It’s full of just matter-of-fact observations when that is the subject (and it is by no means the main subject).
But being stuck in bed, and being obviously a talented and inquisitive person, what is there to do? Even sitting up and writing was mostly beyond her means. How do you occupy your time when most of your friends have stopped coming to visit just as a matter of course (and her description of this is masterful)? Well, you adopt a snail, of course.
She discovers a small snail in a flower pot that someone had given her. She then proceeds to watch and describe its habits in interesting and fine-toothed (as snails have) detail. I don’t know how she pulled this off. Perhaps I’m easily amused. But this is a “stop and smell the roses” type of book. Instead of your typical roller-coast ride of various characters, subjects, events, and what-not, this book reads like a pleasant meditation. It’s a soul rush, to some respects, rather than a sugar rush.
And you’ll walk away from this book with a renewed sense of the awesomeness of life, even that of the humble snail. It is so easy for these small details in life, of life, to get lost in a blur of motion and short attention spans. This book is not dull, but it does manage to ramp back the ADHD factor and actually get you involved in the wonders not just of snails but of this one snail.
As one reviewer at Amazon aptly said:
Yes, it’s all about snails and their behaviors, but I promise you, after reading this, you’ll never look at snails again the same. But really, (at least for me) I’ll never look at anything the same again. This book made me realize how little I know about so many things in this universe. How much I have to learn.
It’s a rather pleasingly short book at 208 pages and is available in Kindle format. Bailey presses the creative boundaries of just what a book can be, and she does it without the new-age treacle that is typical of these kinds of efforts. No wacko here, just keen and inquisitive observations. • (1425 views)