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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.
Part I. The Violet-Pot Adventures
1. Field Violets
Part II. A Green Kingdom
4. The Forest Floor
5. Life in a Microcosm
6. Time and Territory
Part III. Juxtapositions
7. Thousands of Teeth
8. Telescopic Tentacles
9. Marvelous Spirals
10. Secret Recipes
Part IV. The Cultural Life
11. Colonies of Hermits
12. Midnight Leap
13. A Snail's Thoughts
14. Deep Sleep
Part V. Love and Mystery
15. Cryptic Life
16. Affairs of a Snail
Part VI. Familiar Territory
20. Winter Snail
21. Spring Rain
22. Night Stars
– The New York Review of Books
"How interesting can a snail be? Entirely captivating, as it turns out.[Bailey] is a marvelous writer, and the marriage of science andpoetic mysticism that characterizes this small volume is magical."
– Minneapolis Star Tribune
– Susan Stamberg, NPR's Morning Edition
"Survival, resilience, and intellectual curiosity [...] Deeply moving [...] Extraordinary."
– Literature and Medicine, the journal of the Institute for the Medical Humanities
"An exquisite meditation on the restorative connection betweennature and humans [...] As richly layered as the soil she lays downin the snail's terrarium: loamy, potent, and regenerative."
– The Huffington Post
"[A] small, quiet masterpiece, already destined to become a classic."
– The Washington Times
"A charming, delicate meditation on the meaning of life."
– Kirkus Review
- Edward O. Wilson, author of The Diversity of Life
"I love [The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating] with all my heart [...] It's moving and beautiful [...] funny and sweet and wise and profound."
- Jane Hamilton, author of A Map of the World