Elisabeth Tova Bailey is the author of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (2010) which won the 2010 John Burroughs Medal, the Natural History Literature category of the 2010 National Outdoor Book Award (joint award), and the non-fiction category of the 2012 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. In the book she describes her observations of an individual land snail in the species Neohelix albolabris which lived in a terrarium next to her while she was confined to bed through illness.
Her essays and short stories have been published in the Missouri Review, Northwest Review, and the Sycamore Review.
She lives in Maine.
This biography was last updated on 10/22/2014.
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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is part memoir, part natural history and it details your relationship with a snail over the period of a year. What led you to write this book?
I wrote down some of my snail observations and a friend was so intrigued that she suggested I turn them into an essay. The essay seemed to really delight readers. After some years had passed, I wondered if there could be a book, but I wasnt sure there was more to write. I began to read scientific gastropod literature, fell in love with it, and found there was quite a bit more to say. I wrote the book partly because I felt I owed the snail a biographical thank you and partly because I felt the story would be of help to other people going through a rough time.
The setting for your book is the geographically and emotionally isolated space of your bedroom. How did you survive that situation?
The isolation and limits of illness can be very tough, sometimes even tougher than illness itself. I do not know how I, or anyone, survives such situations. The snail was very critical in getting me through a hard time. I think each of us, in surviving any difficult life challenge, have to find a way to stay connected to the world as that connection is what ...
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