2010-04-22 / News

Islanders play prominent roles in two new books

By Eileen M. Daly

Two island residents are involved with new books that have recently been released.

“Yankee Modern” is an elegant hardcover book that captures the beauty and simplicity of the home designs of award-winning Jamestown architects Jim Estes and Peter Twombly.

Written by William Morgan and published by the New York publishing firm Princeton Architectural Press, “Yankee Modern” contains a dazzling array of photographs (mostly taken by Providence photographer Warren Jagger) of New England homes designed by Estes and Twombly.

According to Twombly, the book came about over a long period.

“We’ve been thinking about doing a book to document some of our best projects for quite some time,” he said.

After teaming up with Morgan, the project was submitted to Princeton Architectural Press and accepted for publication, he said.

The book is designed for both professionals and for the layperson, Twombly said.

“We felt it would be appropriate for professionals who might want to see what other firms were doing in New England, as well as for the layperson who might be considering building,” Twombly said.

The hallmark of the team’s designs might be considered simplicity, and the foreword of “Yankee Modern” describes their work as analogous to the beauty and simplicity of yacht design.

“In their houses, as in yachts, there is no wasted gesture. Sailboats don’t pretend to be anything but what they are, and the same is true of the houses of Estes/Twombly,” the book reads.

Twombly describes their work as a process of looking closely at the context in which the buildings will appear – whether it be urban or rural – and then reflecting a similar though often cleaner and/ or simpler design.

“We’re not trying to reproduce a Colonial or Victorian or Shingle design,” Twombly said. “Instead, we reflect the existing tradition in a cleaner, simpler way.”

“Yankee Modern” features 10 such homes located throughout New England. For more information or to purchase a copy of “Yankee Modern,” visit the Princeton Architectural Press web page at www.papress.com and type “Yankee Modern” into the search box.

A second new book with a Jamestown connection is “Treehugger,” a self-published paperback written by islander Shamus Flaherty.

It is described in the Author’s Note as, “A work of fiction based on the real life heroics of Matt Largess.”

Largess, himself an islander, is the colorful, long-time owner of Largess Forestry. Flaherty, who earned a B.A. in English literature from the University of New Hampshire, is also the author of two previous books, both of which are works of fiction.

In fact, Flaherty said he had no intention of writing a “creative” non-fiction book until a chance meeting with Largess compelled him to change his mind. They met for the first time at a meeting of the Jamestown Tree Committee, while Flaherty was working as a reporter for the Jamestown Press – a scene recounted in the opening pages of “Treehugger.”

“When I first moved to Jamestown, it was during the winter so it was too early to start landscaping. I met Matt at the Tree Committee meeting and he offered me a job clearing brush,” Flaherty said. He took the job, he said, intending just to make some extra money until the weather changed and he could start his landscaping business (Flaherty is the owner of Beacon Hill Gardening).

While working for Largess, Flaherty said, he became intrigued by the stories Largess shared with him about his life.

“He kept asking me to write it, but I had always written fiction,” Flaherty said. “But, in the end, it was just too easy to write. I just turned on a tape recorder and let him talk.”

The story he tells is a captivating story of debauchery and redemption. An early career cutting down giant redwoods in the Oregon wilderness was accompanied by all manner of ill-advised – and often illegal – behavior as Largess tore through his younger years.

At one point during this period of his life, Flaherty said, Largess began to have doubts not only about his personal behavior, but also about the consequences of his profession.

Looking over the destruction he had helped to cause in the Oregon wilderness, Flaherty said, Largess began to wonder how long it would take for the damage to be reversed.

“Treehugger” is based on the true story of how Largess turned his life around, recovered from his various addictions and became one of the leading national spokesmen for the preservation of trees and old-growth forests in America.

“Treehugger” is available for purchase through Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and at AuthorHouse. com. Flaherty will hold a book signing at Trattoria Simpatico this Monday, April 26, from 6 to 8 p.m.

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