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A Year at the Races

  by Jane Smiley


(about 348 pages)
87,041
total words
of all the books in our library
44.01%
vividness
of all the books in our library
7.43%
passive voice
of all the books in our library
3.15%
all adverbs
of all the books in our library
1.17%
ly-adverbs
of all the books in our library
1.97%
non-ly-adverbs
of all the books in our library

clippings from this book

We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of words, from thousands of different authors, training our linguistic models to recognize the most vivid words in the English language… the words that create the most intense sensory experiences: colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and aromas.

Based on our analysis, we’ve scanned through the pages of this book to find the two pages at the extremes, both the most-passive and the most-vivid pages, so that you can compare them side-by-side and see the difference:

MOST PASSIVE PAGE
MOST VIVID PAGE
Wowie was being shipped to Bay Meadows, Hali came over. I hadn’t seen her in about ten days, and she didn’t know the plans for the horse. After she had settled in and I judged that she was in the mood, I said, “Sohow does Wowie feel right now?” “Well, he doesn’t know where he’s going.” “Do you mean, like, what his fate is, or his larger purpose, or something like that?” “I don’t know. He just doesn’t know where he’s going. And he can’t breathe very well. He’s upset. He can’t see. There’s a lot of noise.” She shrugged. “I don’t know what he’s getting at. Is there some construction at the racetrack?” Hali has never been to a racetrack. I said, “Well, actually, he’s on a van heading to Bay Meadows up in San Francisco. He’s probably confined in a stall about four feet by ten feet, and the windows are way up high. I’m not sure if he can see out a window.” She was unfazed by this confirmation of her abilities, and why should she be impressed? This happened to her all the time. She said, “Did anyone tell him where he was going or why?” “I doubt it.” This is a hard thing to remember with talking horses—that they like to know what’s up. I said, “Tell him he’s going to another racetrack to run in a race, because they don’t have too many of his type of races down south.” “When is bloodlines. I also bought her because of a sign. I was sitting with my friend Jim Squires in the dining room at Keeneland, talking about whether I should buy the mare, and I saw Penny Chenery across the room, the owner of Secretariat, and it seemed blasphemous not to take the mare. Chipper was then shipped to Jim and bred to an Irish horse in Kentucky named Corwyn Bay. After that, she came to me and the ranch in California where my mares and foals live. Chipper not only had Jurassic breeding (no Northern Dancer, no Nasrullah or Nearco, the only connection to Native Dancer through that horse’s older sister), she had a Jurassic look. Bright chestnut, with a big blaze, four white stockings, and a white patch on her belly, she had the outline of a Thoroughbred (low-set neck, high withers, longish back, sloping croup), but the feet of a draft horse and the musculature of a quarter horse. She looked every day of her age—twenty-three—not because she was in bad physical condition, but because she was built like old-fashioned horses, coarse, wide, and strong, with a long slim head, long ears, and a broad forehead. Cheerful was her eighteenth foal. Mares don’t go through menopause; some breed into their late twenties, and even produce good racehorses, but Chipper seemed very old to me, and I saw signs of senility in her. When I went to give her carrots, she seemed barely to recognize what a carrot

emotional story arc

Click anywhere on the chart to see the most significant emotional words — both positive & negative — from the corresponding section of the text…
This chart visualizes the the shifting emotional balance for the arc of this story, based on the emotional strength of the words in the prose, using techniques pioneered by the UVM Computational Story Lab. To create this story arc, we divided the complete manuscript text into 50 equal-sized chunks, each with 1740.82 words, and then we scored each section by counting the number of strongly-emotional words, both positive and negative. The bars in the chart move downward whenever there’s conflict and sadness, and they move upward when conflicts are resolved, or when the characters are happy and content. The size of each bar represents the positive or negative word-count of that section.

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other books by Jane Smiley

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