The story, August Heat by W.F. Harvey, can be read online here. It stands on a jagged border separating horror from philosophy. Its mood is simple and alluring. This story is better listened to than read. Here is a twelve minute audio version of the story.
An artist paints a picture of a man condemned to death, and later comes across that man from his sketch chiselling away at a gravestone with the artist’s name on it. Imagine that moment of clarity when an optical illusion begins to make sense, that click in your head when you see the black lamp cuddled between the two white faces. August Heat is about that shift in perspective when a skeptic turns into a believer, a man man accepts his insanity. It is about two men whose fates clash and for whom it becomes impossible to fight destiny.
It is only natural that my first read for the R.I.P. Challenge is a short story, considering how awfully full my schedule is these days. But this short story is layered, can be dug deep into and employs masterful literary technique. Listen to it and tell me what you think!
4 thoughts on “August Heat by W.F. Harvey”
Fascinating story, and perfect for this gray September day. Thx for sharing this video, as the reader's voice had just that right manner to it. I googled it, and it was adapted for the Suspense radio series back in the '40s with Ronald Colman playing Withencroft. I can see why it was so attractive as a story. Creepy. Brrrrr….
Divers and Sundry – I liked the narrator's voice and all the background noises, especially by the end – very effective. I didn't know about the radio adaptation, should be worth checking out.
Oh, this was wonderfully creepy! It seemed familiar to me, when I began reading your post, and after listening to it, I realized I'd actually read the story a while back. Some of it I forgot, like the description of the fat man, but the main idea stayed with me, and listening to this story I was reminded how much I liked it.
I loved the idea of the artist creating the drawing, and of his drawing actually coming to life and…well, better not spoil it. 🙂
Thanks for posting this, I really enjoyed it.
Delia – I'm glad you enjoyed it. It seems like the kind of story that wouldn't lose its effect even in a re-read! 🙂