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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

A True Story

By Elisabeth Tova Bailey

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2010,
    208 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Megan Shaffer

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Louise Jolly (03/05/11)

An Unusual Memoir!!
Elisabeth Tova Bailey is bedridden with a mysterious disease that has left her paralyzed but she finds meaning in her life through observing a small woodland snail!! The snail served as her entertainment, her connection to a world beyond her own suffering and gave her hope and strength to carry on and wait for her health to improve. Being bedridden she is cut-off from the world and lives like a “hermit” just like her snail.

Ms. Bailey does not complain about her illness, her time is better spent being curious about her snail and marveling at how resilient it is. By watching so intently and being a studious pupil, Bailey tells us she wants to fight her illness but that wouldn’t have been possible without her snail.

The latter part of the book reads more like a textbook on snails and other mollusks, but I would have liked to hear more of Bailey’s life and her thoughts about her illness.

There is one line in the book that I will quote here because I find it is so very, very true. “Illness isolates; the isolated become invisible; the invisible become forgotten.”

Anyone who reads this is going to love it and it’s not like your typical memoir, it’s a very different type of story which you’ll thoroughly enjoy!
Cloggie Downunder (01/31/11)

slow down and see the snails
Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s latest work, “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” has a title that naturally intrigues. Is this book really about snails? And if so, how interesting or exciting can that be? Is reading this book going to be like watching paint dry or grass grow? And can you actually hear a wild snail eating? The answer to the last question is “yes”, but don’t leave it at that. This book is worth your time: you will very likely read it in one sitting.

Bailey finds herself in a situation of enforced inactivity. It is the reader’s good fortune that she uses her time to share her observations of Neohelix albolabris, the White-lipped forest snail. Bailey displays a great insight into her own situation. She identifies with her snail: they are both homebound; both prisoners; both displaced from their usual familiar environment. Bailey’s isolation is kept at bay by her snail (as hard as this may be to believe!). We are treated to quite a different perspective of the world. This book is full of easily-digestible information about snails and delightful quotes and anecdotes about snails from various literary sources. And, as unlikely as it may seem, there is also philosophy, humour and sex.

This book is truly a pleasure to read. And after reading it, you may well hesitate as your hand reaches for the snail pellets, next time you go into the garden.
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