Author(s): Elisabeth Tova Bailey
In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Tova Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her encounter with a Neohelix albolabris--a common woodland snail.
While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own place in the world.
Intrigued by the snail's molluscan anatomy, cryptic defenses, clear decision making, hydraulic locomotion, and courtship activities, Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, offering a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this underappreciated small animal.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world can illuminate our own human existence, while providing an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey is not quite a biography and not quite a book on snails, but a little bit of both. When the author contracts a mysterious disease in her mid thirties that leaves her bedridden and almost unable to move, a friend gives her a potted violet with a wild snail living in it. While her universe has shrunk to the size of her bed, Bailey becomes immersed in the life of her new friend, leading her on a journey through zoology, history, poetry and literature, in an effort to understand the life of a snail. You'd think a book about a bed bound woman and a snail would be slow but it isn't, it's fascinating, compelling and uplifting. - Lucy
Winner of National Outdoor Book Award: Nature and the Environment 2010.
' An exquisite book on the healing power of nature...this is a gem...I highly recommend this slim volume about loss, isolation, connection to the natural world and hope. It is a book that will be equally appreciated by physicians, carers and patients. At the end, one of left with a sense of wonder and this is what truly defines it as a unique work.' Australian Family Physician 'A woman with a mysterious disease is slowed to a snail's pace. Who would ever guess that the reward for pausing to look at a mollusc could be so profound? Elisabeth Tova Bailey's book makes us see the natural world afresh. A fantastic investigation into both snails and the human condition.' -- Tim Flannery 'This is an entrancing record of spiral love, one which grows from the delicate devotion the author feels for a snail-companion, out into the widest whorls of biophilia.' -- Jay Griffiths 'This remarkable meditation on coming to terms with one's own frailties through understanding the frailties of another species will surely renew our sense of wonder with the world. It is a triumph.' Sydney Morning Herald 'To carry off a book like this-featuring Bailey's observations of a snail living in a bedside pot plant-you have to be either a very good writer or a really interesting person. Thankfully, this New England writer bedridden with a mysterious illness is both. Her book is, in turn, comforting, a delightful piece of time out and a meditation away from a sometimes tumultuous and anxiety-inducing world.' Listener's best books of 2011
Elisabeth Tova Bailey's essays and short stories have been published in The Missouri Review, Northwest Review, and the Sycamore Review. She has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and a Notable Essay Listing in Best American Essays. She lives in Maine.