Cover image for Rest area : stories
Rest area : stories
Chapman, Clay McLeod.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Theia, [2002]

Physical Description:
178 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Clay Chapmans characters dont turn heads or perform dramatic feats of heroism. They arent highly educated or well-traveled. Their backgrounds and circumstances are unexceptional. Their stories, however, are anything but. Originating as a series of enthusiastically received monologues that this twenty-four-year-old author has performed around the country and abroad, Rest Area leads us into the minds of characters as real as they are original, and through a series of domestic horror stories that will leave readers breathless with amazement.

Author Notes

Clay Mcleod Chapman first began writing plays at the age of twelve, when he won a play-writing contest in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Since then, he has developed a style of character monologue that he both performs onstage and transforms to the page. He has performed his "Pumpkin Pie Show," a rigorous storytelling session backed with its own live soundtrack, throughout the United States, at the Romania International Theatre Festival, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He lives in Brooklyn, New York

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Chapman has created a dark, almost nightmarish, world of ordinary people and extraordinary events. The collection includes 20 stories in monologue form, all written in a crisp, vivid prose strongly reminiscent of the hard-life, hard-luck stories of Raymond Chandler. Chapman has an eye for irony, and these stories are replete with dark humor and shocking and sometimes twisted narratives. A lonely old woman romances a rabid fox with tales of her past. An older man recounts the story of the missing teenage girl from next door and the unexpected role he had in her disappearance. A deaf teenager reveals the hidden drama of her daily bus ride to school. Chapman frequently recites these stories as monologues live on stage, though the stories carry plenty of dramatic weight on their own. --Ted Leventhal

Publisher's Weekly Review

This debut collection reveals a playwright's fondness for edgy, frightening setups. Chapman who got his start as a playwright at the age of 12 and later honed his one-man act at the International Fringe Festival takes as his form of choice a sort of transliterated monologue. This ingenious device diverts at first, but few of these vignettes they're not quite "stories" progress beyond establishing a bizarre or ironic situation, and many read like half-cooked campfire yarns. There are some clever sketches demonstrating what the others might have become with a lighter touch and more polish. The unholy carnival of "Rodeo Inferno" is enjoyably creepy, and "Second Helping," about a pack of Cub Scouts run feral, is gleefully gruesome. But the book is marred by heavy-handed language, as in "Honey Well Hung," which attempts a symbolic conflation of chicken coops and a frustrated, infertile farm couple, yielding such regrettable moments as "Couldn't tell you how many times I pecked away at her, hoping to crack into that yolk." The premises can also be predictable and cumbersome: in the title story, a man who last saw his little girl at a rest stop with his car keys months ago can't figure out the odor coming from his trunk: "I know she's close. God, sometimes I can almost smell her, she feels so close." Actors, spoken-word enthusiasts and camp counselors in search of rough-edged material will enjoy this, but short story lovers should look elsewhere. (Feb.) Forecast: Sales may see a bump in the New York area, as publication coincides with the opening of Chapman's off-Broadway play. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Short stories in the form of monologs are nothing new, but Chapman's first collection of 20 makes the form seem so. In the title story, a father waits for his daughter at the rest stop where she disappeared months before. In "Pool Witch," three boys dare to scale the highest water slide. Their objectives: to toss the lifeguard in before their own glorious descent. In "Spoonfed," a story with unsettling overtones, a 16-year-old boy relates how he cares for his younger handicapped sister, and in the powerful and tragic "And the Mothers Stepped Over Their Sons," a woman narrates the loss of her asthmatic soldier son as she searches for his body in a field of dead young men. Chapman has been writing since the age of 12 and performing his monologs in the United States and abroad for many years. Amazingly, he manages to squeeze character, plot, setting, and background into each. There is nothing corny or cute, labored or false; instead, there is bold, honest realism. For contemporary short story collections. Mary Szczesiul, Roseville P.L., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Rest Area offers an edgy, darkly humorous debut collection of domestic horror stories that will take hold of your imagination without letting go. Twenty stories lead us into the minds of characters as real as they are original, and through a series of revelatory mysteries. A man waits for his daughter outside the bathroom of a highway rest stop where she disappeared--months ago. A deaf teenager reveals the silent dramas of her daily bus ride to school. A lonely old woman romances a rabid fox with tales of her past. A ventriloquist and his dummy "discuss" their growing dissatisfaction with their relationship. Surprisingly comic and wonderfully tender, shockingly brutal and cleverly twisted, these are tales of ordinary people caught up in less-than-ordinary events. They herald the arrival of a unique young talent--and of an arsenal of powerfully authentic voices that will echo long after the last story comes to an end. Excerpted from Rest Area by Clay McLeod Chapman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Rest areap. 1
Fox trotp. 9
The pool witchp. 17
The wheels on the bus gop. 25
Spoonfedp. 33
Chatterboxp. 43
Michellep. 49
Second helpingp. 57
And the mothers stepped over their sonsp. 65
Honey well hungp. 73
Johnny pumpkinseedp. 81
The man corn triptychp. 85
Correspondence of corpsesp. 103
Off-season spiritsp. 111
Poor man's mermaidp. 119
Bladder companionp. 129
A step off from fatheringp. 137
Milking cherryp. 147
Rodeo infernop. 163
It goes ricketyp. 171