All but immobilized by a rare and bizarre autoimmune disease, Elisabeth Tova Bailey was no longer able to work in her garden or hike with her dog; she couldn’t walk across a room unaided. Among the gifts brought by visiting friends was a small snail, which arrived in a flower pot that Bailey placed on her bedside table. With her world reduced to those few things within her immediate reach, Bailey found herself increasingly obsessed with her new “pet.” The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is the marvelous result of her observation and reflection.
Like Blake, Bailey is able “to see a world in a grain of sand”—or in this case, in a small mollusk. She explores the varieties, anatomy, growth patterns, sex life, feeding habits, and perceptive capabilities of her snail and snails in general. She employs extensive research, close observation, serious reflection, playfulness, and precise yet poetic language. But this isn’t just a book about snails. Reading The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating brings the world into sharp focus.