Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A few days ago, I mentioned Amazon's new Statistically Improbable Phrases feature. Now Amazon has surprised me again with a new slew of strange features.

The "Concordance" feature lists the 100 most frequently used words in a book. The blocks of words (which you can click on to see every instance of the word inside the text at Amazon) look almost like prose poems. Here are the top 100 words in The Book of Dead Birds:

again against air almost another anything arms ask ava away bag birds bit body book car come dark darryl day dead door down emily even eyes face feel felt few find first frieda front get girl go going good ground hair hand head heart helen herself home inside jeniece keep know let little long look man maybe mother mouth myself now okay omma open pelican people place pull put right room run said says sea see should skin small something start still sun sure take tell thing think thought time toward try turn two voice walk want water woman words

and the top 100 words in Fruitflesh:

apple away belly body book breasts breath choose come creative day deep different does down earth even experience eyes face feel find first flesh fruit fruitflesh full get give go hands heart help hold inside itself keep know language leaves let life light little live look love may mouth movement name need new now often open orange ourselves own page part peach people place poem real roots say see seeds senses skin something sometimes sound still story sweet take taste tell things think time tongue tree try use voice want whole woman women words work world write writers writing yourself

(I suppose it's not surprising that "mouth" is in both of them. A class at the University of Redlands recently pointed out how oral The Book of Dead Birds is. I hadn't realized I had made so many references to lips and tongues and beaks; the professor had the students go around in a circle and each mention an oral reference to me when I visited the class. It was quite hysterical! I liked their interpretation--that so many mouths appear in the book because the book is about women finding their voices, and voices issue forth through the mouth. Sounds good to me! I like how in the Concordance words in Fruitflesh, alphabetically you'll find "try use voice." And in the Book of Dead Birds, you'll find "want water woman words.")

Amazon is also listing the Fog Index and Flesch Index of each book (I love how those phrases sound, especially the Flesch one! They have to do with the "readability" of the book.) You can also discover, among other things, how many words per ounce in each book (in Fruitflesh, you get 6,531 words to the ounce) and how many words per dollar (the Book of Dead Birds will give you 6,688 pages per buck. A bargain, if I say so, myself.) A much belated edit: I just realized I wrote pages per buck, not words per buck--6,688 pages per buck would be an amazing bargain indeed! 6,688 words per book isn't too shabby, either.

I think Amazon has officially lost its mind.

No comments: