Hard Hed is a contemporary retelling of the Johnny Appleseed story. Hoosier Chapman, local historian and apple orchardist, has just been released from a Northwestern Ohio jail after serving two years for planting wild apple trees in a city park.
Dropped at the state line by a deputy sheriff, Hoosier treks west, overland and barefoot into Indiana state, recreating history and inventing myth, both public and private, along the way. Hoosier Chapman, the historian, yearns for a pre-colonial, pre-gunpowder freedom that lies just beyond the common fields, before the wetlands were drained and the forests cut down. Chaos and violence—like fate—hound his every step.
In five “Books” ranging in style from realism to fantasy to historical document to speculative fiction to lyric poetry, there is a joy of craft that shows through page after page. Hard Hed is part meta-story, part documentary, part violent romance, an unabashedly original work of fiction that roams in and out of time and place and point of view. Tidler has created an Indiana as Faulkner created a Mississippi and Steinbeck a California.
Praise for Hard Hed:
“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, albeit a tricky read. It’s definitely worth it to see what’s happening beyond the margins of the conventional novel. Way beyond.”
“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
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