Filed under: Book news
A technology blogger named Mark Hurst was reading Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth on a Kindle e-reader recently, and made a fascinating discovery. It began when he noticed Follett’s repeated use of the phrase “his heart in his mouth.”
This is how Follett described a character who was nervous or anxious or frightened. It’s not the most refined metaphor to begin with, but there it was – and then a few pages later, someone else’s heart was in his mouth – and then, next chapter, another heart in another mouth – and again – more hearts, more mouths – until I finally finished the book and thought, just how many times did Follett use that ONE metaphor in a single book?
Which brings me back to the Kindle. Digital technology changes the experience of reading books. What might otherwise have taken hours, to scour the text for an irritating phrase, now takes just a few seconds.
And the answer is: 13. Actually 17, if you count the four instances of “her heart in her mouth.” (It seems that men are, on the whole, a lot hungrier for coronary snacks.)
Going forward, let’s hope editors start playing around with their e-readers, too, so they can catch some of this stuff before it reaches print.
(Check out Hurst’s post for a Kindle screen capture of Follett’s repetitive lapses.)