“August Heat”

This week’s bit of weird fiction . . .

Review: “August Heat”, W. F. Harvey, 1910.

This story is short enough and has a twisty – if still ambiguous – ending that it’s easy to see why it was adopted it for radio and made its way into Alfred Hitchcock’s Fatal Attractions.

It’s August 20th. Our narrator, one James Clarence Withencroft, is going to tell us about the most remarkable day in his life.

He’s 40 years old, in perfect health, and a reasonably successful artist.

On a whim, he gets the inspiration to do a quick sketch. When it’s done, he decides it’s the best thing he’s ever done: a portrait of an “enormously fat” man collapsing in the dock after a judge has pronounced his sentence.

He pockets the sketch and goes on a contented, wandering walk about London at random and ends up some place he’s never been before – the workplace and residence of Charles Atkinson.

There, on impulse, he enters the work yard and finds Atkinson at work. Atkinson is a jovial sort, a monument maker.

Atkinson also looks exactly like the fat man in Withencroft’s sketch.

To say more would spoil the surprise. Harvey’s tale has a nice bit of humor and some ambiguity at the end, all to good and memorable effect. You can read it at the link above.

 

More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

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