Reading the John Updike stories: ‘Still Life’

I’m reading and commenting on a story from The Library of America’s recently published ‘John Updike: The Collected Stories’ each Wednesday until I finish the collection or give up.

John Updike tapped his post-Harvard year in London studying art for the background of “Still Life,” published in January 1959 in The New Yorker. He sets a comic tone with the opening sentence:

“Leonard Hartz, a slender and earnest American with a rather comically round head, came to the Constable School because it was one of three British art schools approved by the Veterans Administration under the new, pruned GI Bill.” (“Comically round head”: Does that make you think of Charlie Brown, too?)

A single guy, unlike several other American veterans studying there, he’s terribly lonely and homesick. “The American movies so readily available reaffirmed rather than relieved his

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