|About the Book|
Russell Huggins, 32, has died an indigent’s death but left behind a formidable literary estate. Tom Shaw has been enlisted by The University of Maryland’s Urban Archaeology Department to decipher and distill, catalogue and compile, Huggins’ vast collection of single-spaced, handwritten journals and ledgers littering the second floor of Button House, a dilapidated mansion on the outskirts of Orchard Park, a Baltimore suburb. Is it but a case of riotous hypergraphia or does the University’s adamancy suggest something else? Who is Russell Huggins and why has his life inspired the scrutiny of a host of cryptographers, semagramists, steganographers as well as Army Intelligence? Shaw soon unearths a life led in letters, essays, poetry and prose- a proud life- an intellectually dignified life- a life led with passion and fire. His literary effects describe a fantastical world, both marginal and fabulously integrated, as it becomes evident to Shaw that Huggins has participated in an extravagant and far-reaching decade-long information management campaign, allied with mentor and MIT linguist George Irwin and lifelong friend and sociologist David Duff. Orchard Park tells the tale of one man’s effort to scratch at the canvas- to peel away life’s protective layers- to decrypt meaning from the cultural artifacts by which he is surrounded—to achieve grace through creation and redemption through imagination. Huggins’ Orchard Park is an analog for the world-at-large- a world in which all things are encrypted—a world where man has abandoned the causes of the heart for the cause of information—imperfect information. Huggins defies this notion and appropriates words in an effort to subvert the obfuscation which is the hallmark of the information age and in doing so, forges an empire of the mind dignified by an unbridled celebration of the Imagination.