Nothing Untoward: Stories from “The Pumpkin Pie Show”

by Clay McLeod Chapman

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 fount-eyed harvest 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 ineluctable prison of the mind, the voyeuristic titillation of reading and the sympathetic twinges of compelling performance. Centuries of supernatural are resonant in Chapman's work, which transmogrifies the ghosts, ghouls, and beasts of yesteryear into the very human tendencies that once inspired them. 

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, 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.


Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books

Format: Softcover

Page Count: 336

Dimensions: 5.5 x 7.5 inches

ISBN: 9781495061042

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