The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
|Author||Elisabeth Tova Bailey|
|Subject||Natural history, Illness|
|Publisher||Green Books; Algonquin Books|
|Media type||print & digital|
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey (a pseudonym due to her illness), is a natural history/memoir of a bed bound person who spends her time observing a forest snail who inadvertently arrived at her bedside in a terrarium of field violets. Although the protagonist never says in the book that she has myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome, her illness description mirrors that of a severe ME/CFS patient.
In a NPR interview, the author explains her illness, that "it's physically limiting: 'extraordinarily difficult to live with — and it's very unpredictable... [and] depending on what specialist you go to, you can get a different diagnosis.' Those possible diagnoses include dysautonomia, a mitochondrial disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome."
The author wrote in a Question/Answer on the book's website: "The isolation and limits of illness can be very tough, sometimes even tougher than the 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 sustains us."
The books is available in editions in: U.S., Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan.
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 a common 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.
- 2012 - William Saroyan International Prize for Nonfiction
- 2011 - John Burroughs Medal Award
- 2010 - National Outdoor Book Award
- 2010 - Booklist Top Ten Adult Science & Technology Books For 2010
- 10 Sep 2010, The Beautiful Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey — Nina Sankovitch. The Huffington Post.
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating reviewed by Kathleen Yale. Orion Magazine.
Articles and interviews
- 28 Aug 2010, 'The Sound Of A Snail': A Patient's Greatest Comfort. NPR Books'.
- 17 Nov 2016, Finding new life at a snail’s pace by Al Cooper in The Spectrum
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating - Amazon (UK)
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating - Amazon (US)
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating - Green Books Publishers
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating - Goodreads
- The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating - Official website
- National Public Radio staff. (28 August 2010). 'The Sound Of A Snail': A Patient's Greatest Comfort. Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129475625