“Michael Puttonen’s narrative of my novel HARD HED: The Hoosier Chapman Papers is genius. – Charles Tidler”
“It’s an impressive novel that reminds you what a talented writer can achieve in under 180 pages, one who clearly enjoys taking chances as he pillages narrative and history to lay bare prejudice and hope.”Quentin Mills-Fenn, Uptown
In this contemporary retelling of the Johnny Appleseed story, Tidler has created an Indiana as Faulkner created a Mississippi and Steinbeck a California. Local historian and apple orchardist Hoosier Chapman has just been released from a Northwestern Ohio jail. Having served two years for planting wild apple trees in a city park, he is dropped at the State Line by a deputy sheriff. Hoosier Chapman, barefoot, treks west into Indiana state, recreating history and inventing myth, both public and private, along the way. The historian in Chapman yearns for a pre-colonial, pre-gunpowder freedom, one that lies just beyond the common fields, before the wetlands were drained and the forests cut down. His every step is dogged by chaos and violence. Ranging in style from fantasy to realism to historical document to speculative fiction to lyric poetry, page after page Tidler’s joy of craft that shows through. Part meta-story, part documentary, part violent romance, this unabashedly original work of fiction roams in and out of time and place and point of view.
“Tidler takes readers on a roller-coaster of a ride, with highs and lows and mighty twists. The history of the Indiana Territory is revealed, along with the brutalizing of its original inhabitants. And the brutality never stops. … The language is raw and crude at times, reflecting the violence of the narrative, but it is also eloquent. …’Hard Hed: The Hoosier Chapman Papers’ is an impressive achievement…” – The Times-Colonist