The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Publication Date: December 2011
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In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Tova 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 understanding of her own confined place in the world. Intrigued by the snail's 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'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 the essay on which The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is based received a notable essay listing in Best American Essays. She lives in Maine.
Struggling with an illness that left her bedridden, Elisabeth Tova Bailey was surprised when her friend brought her a gift: a pot of flowers that also contained a wild snail. In a new memoir, Bailey describes how that nearly motionless mollusk became an unlikely companion. More at NPR.org
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