The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating: Summary and book reviews of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, plus links to an excerpt from The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating and a biography of Elisabeth Tova Bailey.
In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her uncommon 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 under standing of her own confined place in the world.
Intrigued by the snails molluscan anatomy, cryptic defenses, clear decision making, hydraulic locomotion, and mysterious courtship activities, Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, providing a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this underappreciated small animal.
Told with wit and grace, 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 illuminates our own human existence and provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.
Elisabeth Tova Bailey isn't the first to turn illness toward inspiration; however, I'm fairly certain that she may be the first to incorporate the companionship of a snail to do so. While bookstore shelves are teeming with shattering memoirs and incredible life-changing events, a unique and quiet calm surrounds The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating that gently lifts Bailey's story a bit above the rest. (Reviewed by Megan Shaffer).
A charming, delicate meditation on the meaning of life.
A small, short book filled with an enormous amount of natural history and science about snails; also, an acknowledgment of an individual's determination to recover and regain life with humor and insight. Highly recommended.
I love The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating with all my heart...It's moving and beautiful...funny and sweet and wise and profound.
Maxine Kumin, author and United States Poet Laureate
With warmth and intelligence, Bailey observes this little mollusk at her bedside. Readers will find her mental journey remarkable and her courage irresistible. I am very taken with this small book.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Louise Jolly 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... Read More
Rated of 5
by Cloggie Downunder 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... Read More
at my feet
when did you get here?
- Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)
It's no coincidence that Elisabeth Tova Bailey chose Kobayashi Issa as one of several selected poets to gently ease us into the passages of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. The haiku poet's simplicity and grace complement Elisabeth Tova Bailey's quiet observations as she interprets the larger natural world through that of her tiny snail. Sometimes less is so much more, and like the mighty message of this story's small snail, haiku is a fitting medium to deepen its meaning.
Most Western school-children learn that haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that uses a three-lined format of 5-7-5 syllables. This is actually wrong on a number of counts.
Firstly, Japanese haiku are not measured in syllables but in what in English are called morae or moras (from the Latin, to linger or delay), or "on" in Japanese. A fairly complex linguisitic term, moras basically measure the emphasis...
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