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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (edition 2010)

by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

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5515018,310 (4.12)132
Member:-Cee-
Title:The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Authors:Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Info:Algonquin Books (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Kindle, Memoir, Snails

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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

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English (47)  German (3)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
This little book was actually quite interesting. I learned a WHOLE lot about snails -- who knew?! But the narrative is really a contemplation of life, in a microcosm. The author's illness (she was basically bedridden for most of 20 years) placed her in a position of observation by default. She literally could not do much more than watch the snail as it went about its daily routines. The writing itself is lovely and descriptive. I never would have picked this up on my own -- thank goodness for book-club friends' recommendations! ( )
  mfdavis | May 20, 2015 |
A delightful story of a handicapped woman's observations of a snail's daily activities. Charming. ( )
  dottieph | Apr 13, 2015 |
Being from Maine myself, I always love to read books by Maine authors, and this one is a gem.

Elisabeth Bailey was struck down by a mysterious illness while travelling in the Alps. Doctors were unable to explain what was happening to her, although they did discover a change to her mitochondrial function. Lying in bed, too weak to even hold a book, Elisabeth became fascinated with the daily trials and tribulations of a garden snail that a friend had brought in on a violet plant. Over time, Elisabeth became quite an expert on snails, and she shares fascinating facts, discoveries, and observations. Equally compelling are her insights on life at snail-pace, both her own and her companion's. The result is a charming and informative little book that I would recommend to anyone looking for something quiet and contemplative. ( )
1 vote labfs39 | Mar 6, 2015 |
This slim book really surprised me. I know nothing about (and until the last few days cared nothing about) snails. Elisabeth Bailey contracted a virus which, in conjunction with other things that warred with her body, completely felled her, eventually for 20 years. During that time, friends would come occasionally to visit and bring flowers, etc. to cheer her. One day a friend saw a woodland snail as she was leaving, picked it up, and put it in the pot of African Violets sitting by Elisabeth's bed, saying that she and the snail could keep each other company. And so they did. Initially she only watched the snail for hours, as that was the most energy she could expend. Later when she got more interested in its antics, she requested books and began reading up on them. This book is a memoir of that time. She intersperses the antics of the snail with facts on snails, books written about them (fiction, non-fiction, and poetry), and facts about her own illness and recovery. I was completely entranced throughout the book. A true delight. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Feb 28, 2015 |
Dear, dear gastropod...how 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 well...personality! No longer lonely, Bailey looks forward to each new day, and develops a voracious appetite for more 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 one...

Although 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 Fuji
O snail
but slowly, slowly

—Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) ( )
  dreamydress48 | Nov 29, 2014 |
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Epigraph
A small pet is often an excellent companion.
-- Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing, 1912
The natural world is the refuge of the spirit... richer even than human imagination.
--Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia, 1984
Dedication
To biophilia
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In early spring, a friend went for a walk in the woods, and glancing down at the path, saw a snail. Picking it up, she held it gingerly in the palm of her hand and carried it back toward the studio where I was convalescing.
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Book description
While an illness keeps her bedridden, Elisabeth Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence in a terrarium alongside her bed. She enters the rhythm of life of this mysterious creature, and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world. In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, she shares the inspiring and intimate story of her close encounter with Neohelix albolabris - acommon woodland snail. Intrigued by the snail's world - from its strange anatomy to its mysterious courtship activities - she becomes a fascinated and amused observer of the snail's curious life. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is an affirmation of the healing power of nature, revealing how much of the world we miss in our busy daily lives, and how truly magical it is. A remarkable journey of survival and resilience, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating shows how a small part of the natural world can illuminate our own human existence and deepen our appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.
Haiku summary
Most unlikely friend,
Humble snail, shows me the way.
Glide here. Stick there. Wait.

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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.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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