The Dead Snail Diaries
Jamie McGarry

In May 2009, Jamie McGarry stepped on a snail.  Returning to the scene of the crime the next day, filled with guilt and self-recrimination, he discovered a chalk outline and a tiny book.  This is that book... more or less.

You see, it appears the unfortunate snail fancied himself as a bit of a writer.  His 'diary' was filled with astonishing details concerning the private life of snails - their often unhealthy relationship with slugs, their views of humanity's attitude towards them, details of what they laughably call 'snail speed dating', and a previously unheard seafaring legend.

Jamie knew his duty immediately - to translate the snail's loftier writings into English, into poetry, and deliver them to the wider world, so that we can all move a step closer to understanding this most mysterious of animals.  Now, with the publication of The Dead Snail Diaries, you too can take that step.  Just be sure to look where you're going first.

'Not slow to appeal.'
- John Hegley

'A true masterwork...hilariously funny.'
- Steve Rudd
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Release Date:
25th April 2011


Paperback & Kindle


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As the now-legendary story of the Snail Diaries tells us, Jamie started writing the poems in May 2009.  By October, he had finished the first nine, and collected them in a pamphlet entitled 'from The Dead Snail Diaries' (hinting at future joys to come).  You can see what this early edition looked like on the left of the page.

Only 15 copies of the first edition were printed, though that December he produced another 20, this time with ten poems (adding 'Diary of a Church Snail', for Christmas).  A final run of 15 appeared in January 2011, as a teaser for the full-length book; these are now sold out.
Snail for JM, a print by fellow Valley Press author Jo Reed
Pringleplanks: The Railway Snail, pencil drawing by Judith Anne
Taken by the author, purely in the interests of fun - no snails were harmed in the making of these photos.

(All snail-harming occured much earlier in the year, and purely by accident, as we've discussed.)
(click titles for previews, where available)

The Haunting of Poet by Snail  /  A Love Poem: From Snail to Slug  /  Slug’s Night Out  /  The Snail Not Taken  /  Diary of a Church Snail  /  The Hollow Snails  /  Snail Browner Than Ever  /  Snail Goes Speed Dating  /  A Snail’s Advice to His Son  /  Pringleplanks: The Railway Snail   / 
Einstein’s Snail  /  In Search of the Great Green Sea Snail  /  A Shell of My Former Self  /  A Snail at the Races  /  A Snail of Two Cities  /  Snail Attends a Beauty Contest  /  A Snail Says  /  Gandhi’s Snail  /  Snail vs. the French  /  The Copper Wire  /  Snail’s Sense of Self  /  Slug Goes to Rehab  /  A Snail’s Pace  /  Snail’s Postcard from Heaven
A Love Poem: From Snail to Slug

God made us brown so we’d be hard
to spot upon his fertile soil,
to hide from the birds...which he made as well...
to cower, dodge, to postpone hell.

But slug does not hide, or flinch back.
His coat?  Uncompromising BLACK.
He turns defence into attack.
Oh slug – oh glorious slug.

God gave us shells to weigh us down.
Without them, we would HURTLE round,
so common sense suggests.  Who’d beat us,
across a distance of ten metres?

But slug, dear slug, you have the grace
to not rub freedom in our face,
to slow your stride to match our pace.
Oh slug – oh glorious slug.

God made us quiet, thoughtful, wait.
He taught us manners, and restraint.
He taught us not to stay out late,
we’re model garden citizens.

But slug, he DEAFENS when he speaks!
He goes out seven nights a week!
Beer-swilling, hard-living, party beast.
Oh slug – oh glorious slug.

I’d sell my soul to be like him.
Vacate my shell, and dye my skin.
I’d go twice weekly to the gym,
if doing so would let me in

to doors in town that say ‘slugs only.’
But slug accepts no fake, no phony.
I’ll love, but I will never be
a slug – oh glorious slug.

The Haunting of Poet by Snail

Has it been four days now?
Must have been.  Nearly a week
since I did the deed.  It was dark,
and I was hurrying – I didn’t see
his form, the path in front of me.
My careless size-ten shoe came down,
and crushed his hopes and dreams.

My stride stopped mid-step.  Sickened
by that sound, the chilling crunch;
I saw him, when I lifted up.
A tragic mix of slime and shrapnel.

And now – although you’ll doubt –
I swear he’s back.  I am the mollusc’s
sole unfinished business
on this fast and brutal Earth.

You’ll say it’s in my head, if I report
that I can hear his death
in every mistimed gearshift,
every mouth devouring crisps.

But it’s not my conscience doing this,
it’s him.  He’s putting me through hell.
I hear, with every step I take,
the breaking of the tell-tale shell.

Last night, I thought I saw him,
bright and cold, in death.
Slowly sliding next to me,
and felt his tiny, ghostly breath.

‘It was dark!’  I scream.  ‘I was hurrying!’
His silence says it all.  But still,
you don’t believe me?  Come on round,
see the trails across my walls...

and explain the vengeful holes
in my fridge-ridden, cellophaned lettuce.

Sandra the Hippy Chick Snail, ink drawing by fellow Valley Press author Helen Burke
Now, Voyager,
ink drawing also by Helen Burke