Episode 5: August Heat by W F Harvey

August Heat

W F Harvey was a Yorkshireman, born in 1885 and died in 1937. He was a Quaker and suffered from ill health all his life. He joined an ambulance unit in the First World War but then went to work as a surgeon-lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He actually won a medal for saving lives but suffered from lung trouble the rest of his life from that rescue, though that didn’t stop him smoking a pipe.

He published his first collection of short stories called The Midnight House in 1910 and his second in 1928 called The Beast with Five Fingers.

The Beast With Five Fingers is a splendid story was was made into a film in 1946 starring Peter Lorre. I remember watching it at home with my parents and being really creeped out. The next time I watched it as an adult, I realised it was a comedy.

This is a short piece of fiction. We’d almost call it Flash Fiction these days. August Heat is strong in its depiction of atmosphere of the hot August weather. The weird coincidence of the two men encapsulating each other in their own particular forms of art is strange. These days, it isn’t really unnerving. And the long established trope of leaving the reader to wonder whether he will actually die that night before midnight – and he’s got less than an hour left, is fun, but wouldn’t satisfy the modern reader.

I’ve tried it and you get one starred into oblivion if you try that kind of trick on Amazon.

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