At The Overlook Film Festival, our own Editor-in-Chief Jonathan James had the great pleasure of experiencing a one-on-one performance by author/writer/actor Clay McLeod Chapman of The Pumpkin Pie Show, and if you haven't seen the show live, you can experience its eerie effects from your own home with Nothing Untoward: Tales From the Pumpkin Pie Show, a new collection from Chapman that is now available from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, and we've been provided with the short story "Buffet of the Damned" to share with Daily Dead readers.
Click on the cover art below to read "Buffet of the Damned", and visit backwing Store to learn more about Nothing Untoward.
Press Release: MONTCLAIR, N.J. - As any attendee of The Pumpkin Pie Show can attest, the oral tradition didn’t fizzle out among the dying embers of preindustrial society. The world of storytelling has never been more robust; word of mouth has never proved more essential to narrative delivery. Clay McLeod Chapman, a blood moon of a man “with the trembling voice of Vincent Price and the sinister presence of Boris Karloff [NY Times],” is living proof.
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
For two decades, the mild-mannered, ostensibly well-adjusted Chapman has taken to a rudimentary stage (one light, no props) and breathed life into true monstrosities: unhinged men and women teetering on the brink and freely roaming among the rest of us. (You know, us—the normal people.) Nothing Untoward: Stories from “The Pumpkin Pie Show” is the culmination of this decades-long experiment in character-based storytelling, live without a net.
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
Fans of literary fiction will indulge in the genre-blurring, centrifugal barrage of Chapman’s vignettes, microworlds forged and refined over the course of hundreds of drafts and performances. Nothing Untoward is endowed with a scintillating sequence of dualities: the banality of evil and the thrill of introspection, the hell of other people and the black iron prison of the mind, the voyeuristic titillation of reading and the sympathetic twinges of compelling performance. Centuries of the supernatural resonate in Chapman’s work, which transmogrifies the ghosts, ghouls, and foul beasts of yesteryear back into the all-too-human propensities that lie at their roots.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Readers with more dramaturgical leanings will find that Chapman’s stories in monologue form are also perfect for auditions: each piece is a performance-ready character study. The genders of speakers and tones of the tales are diverse and varied: male and female, darkly comedic and oddly heartbreaking, preposterously terrifying and all-too-real. Nothing Untoward is equally at home in classrooms and bedrooms, on Halloween and Groundhog’s Day, in the hands of frenzied adults and introspective teens. Nothing Untoward seems, at first glance, a one-way mirror.
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems
Chapman gazes—stark, white, unblinking—into the abyss of the everyday. Whether you laugh, cry, or scream at what he finds is entirely up to you. So go ahead—chow down on your Pumpkin Pie.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clay McLeod Chapman is the creator of the rigorous storytelling session The Pumpkin Pie Show. His previous publications include Rest Area, Miss Corpus, and The Tribe trilogy [Homeroom Headhunters, Camp Cannibal, and Academic Assassins (Disney)]. His films include The Boy (SXSW 2015), Henley (Sundance 2012), and Late Bloomer (Sundance 2005); his theatre credits include Commencement and Hostage Song (w/ Kyle Jarrow); his comics include Edge of Spider-Verse, The Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Vertigo Quarterly: SFX, and Self Storage. Chapman is a writing instructor at The Actors Studio MFA Program at Pace University.
Click cover to read "Buffet of the Damned":