Felled by a mysterious debilitating illness, the naturalist Elizabeth Tova Bailey can not even raise her head. She only has enough strength to observe the activity of a wild snail placed on her bedside table by a loving carer. Watching the deliberate slow activity of her resilient terrestrial companion becomes both her meditation and her life source as her world narrows to the universe of illness. Written over the course of her recovery, this profound and lyrical book is as delicate and beautiful as a Faberge egg.
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.