books The Sound of a Wild Snail EatingAuthor 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 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

10 thoughts on “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

  1. says:

    Elisabeth Tova Bailey was 34 when she was struck with a mysterious, flu like illness while traveling in Switzerland Upon her return home, the flu symptoms subsided, but her health did not return She found herself so weak and dizzy she was barely able to sit up, let alone stand or care for herself, and her doctors had no idea why.Bailey s life changed radically at that point, shrinking to a single room almost entirely cut off from the outside world On impulse, a friend brought her a pot of wild violets and a woodland snail she d found on a walk Both Bailey and the snail were initially confused by this sudden change to their ecosystems, but it wasn t long before Bailey, who lacked the strength to hold a book or watch an assaultively noisy television, found herself mesmerized by her new companion Over the course of this small book, Bailey learns to care for and relate to this tiny creature whose pace so closely matches her own Her discoveries about the snail unfold with unexpected delight, and her pages teach us about both the enchanting secrets of mollusks and the psychology of successfully managing a debilitating illness.It s hard to describe just how phenomenally well written this book is One wouldn t think that a book about a sick woman and her snail would be much of a page turner, but I found myself looking forward to its lovely, quiet discoveries and profound insights with real anticipation.This is in part because Bailey has taken the time to masterfully craft each sentence in this book, eliminating anything unnecessary in the way that those of us with limited energy are required to do She has also kept the focus extremely tight, with the snail and its compelling habits at the center, her own illness in the background, and the rest of the world and the other humans in it on the hazy periphery It is an enormously powerful and effective piece of writing that moved me a great deal, and not just because I have a milder version of Bailey s disease At its core, this is a book about finding connection in the midst of punishing isolation and hope in the face of cruel and unexpected loss It s one of the most beautiful and quietly inspiring books I ve ever read.

  2. says:

    Solace in a snail I read this book and I write this review in honor of Dov Zeller who shares the same disease as Elizabeth Tova Bailey which often keeps him bedridden Slime is the sticky essence of a gastropod s soul, the medium for everything in its life locomotion, defense, healing, courting, mating, and egg protection Nearly 1 3at my snails daily energy went into slime production And rather than making a single batch of all purpose slime, my snail had a species specific recipe for each of these needs and for different parts of its body It could adjust the ingredients, just as a good cook would, to meet a particular occasion And in a catastrophic accident in which a snail is squashed, it can release a flood of life saving, medicinal mucus packed with antioxidants and regenerative properties After reading The Sound of A Wild Snail Eating , 190 little pages, by Elizabeth Tova Bailey your relationship with the Snail, Neohelix albolabris , will be transformed.You ll never see a snail in the same way again You might even make a new tiny companion.A lovely gift to a friend and yourself Dov, the weight of the world literally pins you down horizontally much too oftenI m sorry, so sorry but I must share you inspire me as much as Bailey With the many friends popping in to visit you your music Friday night Shabbat story time at your house your love of nature and birds and you re as talented of a writer as Elizabeth Bailey I should know I ve read your novel waiting for the world to read it Thanks for being an inspiration to many You are to me

  3. says:

    Loved loved it.First I have to tell you something about myself I am known as the snail saviour I am always telling everybody when they are visiting and tread in my garden, beware of my snails They are scared when they accidently do step on one because they know I will get my whip out A few weeks ago I removed most of the snails I could find from my back garden to my front garden, because I knew my dad and brother would not notice if they d walk on my snails, while they were installing a new fence in my garden.Two days ago my neigbour knocked on my window I have something here for you I thought hmm maybe some nice food No it was a bowl filled with snails She had been working in her garden and knew I did not want her to kill snails, so she gave them back to me And of course returned them to my back garden I do not care if they eat my plants.Anyway I found out I did not know much about them after reading this book I loved how she enjoyed watching her snail and her story made me realize how important ones health is I have been in a lot of pains for year but I finally know what caused it and feel good.But you forget so quickly how bad it was.Health is really the most important thing of all but it is so easy to forget, especially when you are young and feeling great Loved her writing style and I highly recommend this lovely book.

  4. says:

    I never thought reading a book about a snail could be such a rewarding experience Who knew so many people had written poems about snails Who knew that snails have a life and intelligence I do now I know a lot about snails that I never knew before Until this wonderful book came my way, I thought the only good snail was a dead one.Come on, you know you think the same thing Read this book, it may change your mind.Elisabeth Tova Bailey s story about a garden snail, picked up in the woods one day and transported into her sick room in a pot of wild violets is amazing It is a journey in learning and discovery first about a very special snail and second about a very special woman with an illness that most of us could never dream of experiencing You will find unexpected humor, gentle revelations, amazing insight and awsome research all in less than 120 pages that will leave you feeling grateful to be well and part of a world that includes such an insignificant creature as a garden snail.

  5. says:

    Dear, dear gastropodhow was I to know that you are the epitome of elegance and strength of character Bailey develops a mysterious illness at the end of a trip to the Swiss Alps While convalescing on her farm in Maine, she is trying to adjust to the sudden loss of control in her life Practically incapacitated, and depending on the assistance of a caregiver and irregular visits from friends, she soon succumbs to depression and the monotony of the sick bed A friend decides to bring nature to her by planting wild violets in a pot, along with a little woodland snail that she happens to find in the woods, and placing them by her bedside What follows is a close observation of this little creature s habits and wellpersonality No longer lonely, Bailey looks forward to each new day, and develops a voracious appetite for snail research The snail s determination, strength, and even romantic sensibilities are examples that are emulable I could list all the great things that make snails so cool, but then you wouldn t read the book, right Ugh You re a sly oneAlthough Bailey attributed all of the snail s intricate qualities to the theory of Evolution, her observations and case notes pointed me in the opposite direction I was bowled over by it s intelligent design, and the intelligent Creator behind it Nothing was missed, from the way a snail ensures it s survival during winter to it s courtship rituals Snails are deep So true are the words found at Romans 1 20 For His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable If you get a chance to read this, please do I m sure you ll relate to both the snail and the author, especially if you re an introvert, or find that you can t do what you used to do because of declining health Take a lesson from the gastropod, and keep sliming ever forward Climb Mount FujiO snailbut slowly, slowly Kobayashi Issa 1763 1828

  6. says:

    The other day I was telling a sick friend about this book and I told her the author has an illness that sounds very much like ours and my friend said, no wonder she can hear the snails eating Because some people with this illness have chronic migraine symptoms including horrific sound sensitivity which I sometimes call bionic hearing As it turns out, the author does have the same illness as I do The poorly named Chronic Fatigue Syndrome As Laura Hillenbrand, author of sea biscuit says, This illness is to fatigue what a nuclear bomb is to a match It s an absurd mischaracterization Bailey writes beautifully about snails and about illness Her descriptions of both are vivid and powerful, at times stunning, at others charming As the snail s world grew familiar my own human world became less so my species was so large, so rushed, and so confusing I found myself preoccupied with the energy level of my visitors, and I started to observe them in the same detail with which I observed the snail The random way my friends moved around the room astonished me it was a if they didn t know what to do with their energy They were so careless with it There were spontaneous gestures of their arms, the toss of a head, a sudden bend into a full body stretch as if it were nothing at all or they might comb their fingers unnecessarily through their hair 50 With only 32 adult teeth, which had to last the rest of my life, I found myself experiencing tooth envy toward my gastropod companion It seemed far sensible to be a species that had evolved natural tooth replacement than to belong to one that had developed the dental profession 50 I combed through scientific gastropod literature, eager to know about my companion I learned that snails re extremely sensitive to the ingestion of toxic substances from pollution and to changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature, moisture, wind, and vibration I could relate to this, as my dysfunctional autonomic nervous system made me sensitive to these things as well.Since I was unable to tolerate most drugs, my doctor prescribed treatments at such minute doses that a pharmacist said he felt as if he were dispensing medication to a mouse My body s temperature regulation no longer worked One moment I was chilled, and the next too hot this made life as a cold blooded poikilotherm seem appealing Before my illness I had slept like a log with no window shades drawn now my room had to be pitch black at night The sound of the telephone sent a tsunami like shock wave coursing through me, so I kept the ringer turned off I could listen only to music that was slow and continuous anything with individually punctuated notes was too jarring This restricted my entertainment to the calm of Gregorian chants at a barely audible level I wondered if the snail could sense the vibrations through the air, and what the Benedictine monks would think of singing to a gastropod 59 60 I don t remember what drew me to get this book out of the library, but I m so glad I did Not only was it meaningful to read a book written by someone whose experiences of illness are similar to my own, but her writing about gastropods is so fantastic Full of such a delight of details Darwin s agony in trying to understand how land mollusks made their way to isolated islands It nearly drove him mad Gerald Durrell s observation of snails mating and the wild and fantastic existence of the love dart I think some of my favorite parts were excerpts from many different naturalistic texts as well as hearing Bailey talk about literary addresses of snails In most languages, the word for snail refers to its spiral shape in Native American language Wabanaki, the term is Wiwilimeq, for spiraling water creature Giovanni Francesco Angelita, an Italian scholar, wrote an essay in 1607 titled On the Snail and That It Should Be the Example for Human Life He praises the creature s thoughtful pace and good morals and credits it with inspiring everything spiral, from the invention of drill bits to Europe s most famous staircases As a snail grows, its mantle secretes material at the shell opening, thus lengthening and widening its house by increments to keep up with its expanding body size A snail s shell is part and parcel of the animal itself, points out the 19th century naturalist Seamless Wood, as quoted in British Conchology And Edgar Allan Poe, in an odd leap from his usual macabre genre, comments in the preface to The Conchologist s First Book in 1839 that the relation of the animal and shell, with their dependence upon each other, is a radically important consideration in the examination of either My snail s shell had five and a half turns or whorls around its center starting point I could see the past growth lines, and its final shell opening was elegantly rounded off with a wide, creamy lip Was this curved lip a way to strengthen the shell edge Perhaps it was a sort of built in gutter system I would learn, soon enough, that this detail proved, irrevocably, my snail s maturity In Italo Calvino s book Cosmicomics, in a story titled The Spiral , the molluscan narrator expounds on the art of shell making and reflects on what it is like to be part shell But it was the gastropod narrator in Elizabeth Bishop s poem Giant Snail that is so enchanted with its own she ll that it made me want my own Ah, but I know my shell is beautiful, and high, and glazed, and shining I know it well, although I have not seen it Its curled white lip is of the finest enamel Inside, it is as smooth as silk, and I, I fill it to perfection Who knew Poe wrote a book about snails The Conchologist s First Book And Patricia Highsmith was a bit obsessed with them and wrote two stories in which snails play a rather large wink, nudge role You will find both Highsmith stories in Eleven As it turns out I wrote my college thesis on Elizabeth Bishop s The Giant Snail , so I knew about that one, but it was still magnificent to read excerpts in The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating the way she makes connections between snail life and CFS ME life feels a little forced, but all in all I thought this was a beautifully researched and written book with a lot to offer those who love natural sciences and those who love seeing connections between science and literature and for those who are sick or have loved ones who suffer from chronic illness.

  7. says:

    If you need to slow down Don t we all If you want to marvel at the little wonders of the natural world Slime and tenatacles that taste and love darts, no lie If you cherish moments of peace strewn among the madness of a work day Five minutes on the metro is enough My own brain is chugging along too slowly to properly explain why you should read this tale of a bed bound woman and her foray into the world of snails All I know is that every time I picked up this book, it is exactly what I wanted to be reading I wish I was reading it still.

  8. says:

    I allowed myself a long and slow read for this small memoir of one year during a woman s lengthy, 20 year convalescence from an unknown virus That year was made special by the presence of a snail brought in from the woods outside by a visitor The author, Elisabeth Tova Bailey, was unable to live in her own home at that time, was feeling alienated from life, her surroundings, and felt isolated This small creature led her to a year of observation, learning, fostering, and companionship I learned facts I never knew that I wanted to know about the life cycle of the snail And also I ve confirmed a fact I ve learned for myself that the human spirit will find the means if at all possible to sustain itself and that companionship can come in many forms.

  9. says:

    Smoothly written, mildly interesting meditation on invalidism Mysteriously and drastically ill, the author observes the behavior of a snail a friend has left in some flowers by her bedside Then, I must confess I got bored and did not finish the book, but I think that s just me This isn t really my kind of book The friend who gave it to me liked a lot and read it multiple times.

  10. says:

    I have often stated that I need to get my larnin in disguise I need to be tricked into it.Because of this, I have a fondness for biology books like Your Inner Fish A Journey into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body and The Lives of a Cell Notes of a Biology Watcher, which do not read like textbooks in which the author does not talk condescendingly and chapters read like an intriguing story book, with pictures.I m pretty sure that author Elisabeth Tova Bailey never intended to be a biology instructor, and I m real sure that I never intended to learn all that much about a land snail.This little book makes you want to learn what next happens to The Snail and how it carries on its daily job of living Its position as a hospice companion was essential, and touched my heart as easily as any furry animal may have.