The Hotel New Hampshire
a data-art project
(best viewed on large screen)
Creating a visualization on the “data” of a book was always an idea I had in the back of my mind. And I always knew which writer I would choose because I am a big fan of his writing-style and his stories: John Irving. His books are full of colourful characters (often gays and/or trans are included) and the stories take you down a swirling path of events, which can feel as a rollercoaster of emotions. Disturbing, heart-breaking, unavoidably sad and luckily sometimes glorious moments. The book I chose, Hotel New Hampshire (from 1981) is the first one of John Irving I read, after that, many followed. I remember the movie adaption vaguely but I do know it starred Rob Lowe, Jodie Foster and Nastasja Kinski.
So here you find my dataviz/dataart project on the Hotel New Hampshire. The characters from the book were the starting point for my visualizations: I counted the number of actions they carried out and the words they spoke.
Let me introduce you to them in this small summary of the book:
There’s John , the narrator of the story and one of the children of Win Berry (father) and Mary Bates(mother). The story begins with father and mother and them meeting Freud (not ‘the’ Freud) and his bear State ‘O Maine (later called Earl). The father of Win, coach Bob , also plays a significant role in the story in contrast to the parents of Mary (Latin Emeritus, and Mary's mother).
The other siblings are Frank , the oldest and gay, Franny , the leader of the pack, Lilly , has dwarfism and is a writer, and Egg , the youngest. There’s also this dog, Sorrow .
Father buys an old girls’ school and (sort of) turns it into a hotel, the First Hotel New Hampshire. In the Dairy years the eldest 3 children grow up to being teenagers. John, satisfying his maturing sexual needs with Ronda Ray , learns to kiss appropriate by Sabrina Jones , and practices that on Bitty . Franny is raped by Chipper Dove and his teammates, and rescued by Junior Jones , the leader of the Black arm of the Law.
Father receives word from Freud and decides they move to Austria where together with Freud they run another hotel, the Second Hotel New Hampshire. Freud also has a bear there accompanying him, a smart bear, Susie the bear , who turns out to be a woman in a bear-suite.
This hotel also isn’t as it should be, being mostly occupied with a group of prostitutes and a group of radicals , who decide on the faith of the family. In the end the ones left return to America where another hotel is founded, the Third Hotel New Hampshire.
I haven’t revealed in this summary who dies (because some do), or who ends up with who and what events happen in-between. You should read it yourself is my advice. Or another book by John Irving, like The World According to Garp, which was a terrific movie with Robin Williams and John Lithgow.
The book consists of 12 chapters. For each chapter I created a visualization containing the characters / figures who play a part in that particular chapter.
The size of the figures
The visuals (chapters) show several figures which represent the different characters who play an important role within that chapter. The figures are proportionally scaled according to the number of actions they carry out within that chapter (the chapters are therefore not comparable to each other).
small number of actions
larger number of actions
Characters per Chapter
Source: the Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, published by Transworld Publishers, Black Swan edition 2010.
There is a factor of uncertainty in the data: I manually collected the data, marking the book with coloured pencils and counting by hand.