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|Newsletters: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating|
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2010, $18.95)
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a gentle book about a quiet but resilient creature, and the resilient woman who befriends it.
While bedridden with an illness that is identified in the epilogue as mitochondrial disease, Elisabeth Tova Bailey becomes fascinated by the wild snail that lives in a terrarium at her bedside. Most of the book is focused on the snail—its habits, its life cycle, its characteristics—but along the way the author shares many insights into her own feelings and condition.
“Watching it glide along was a welcome distraction and provided a sort of meditation,” Elisabeth writes about the snail. “My often frantic and frustrated thoughts would gradually settle down to match its calm, smooth pace. With its mysterious, fluid movement, the snail was the quintessential tai chi master.” Elisabeth writes, too, that as she felt more and more distanced from the busyness that occupied her friends and visitors, the snail offered steady companionship.
LifelineLetter, January/February, 2011