A man enters a bank, witnesses an armed robbery, provokes one of the robbers and ends up getting a bullet in the brain. Now there is an interesting plot for you!
The short story “Bullet in the Brain” was written by Tobias Wolff and was first published in The New Yorker in 1995. The protagonist is a man called Anders. A book critic who has grown extremely tired of his work. But not only has he grown tired of his work, he has actually developed a sort of indifferent attitude towards his surroundings, and a need to criticise everything he sees and hears. First it is the two women standing in the line in front of him. As they all observe the teller leaving her position to go have a chat with one of her male co-workers, the protagonist feels the same resent as the two women, but he still gives the two a hard time the minute they start criticising the teller. This obviously is very double standard but it shows the protagonist’s need to criticise. It is as if he has been fed up with more or less moronic plots and overused clichés. When one of the robbers calls Anders “Bright boy!” (p.2 l.56) Anders exclaims “Did you hear that? … ‘Bright boy’, right out of ‘The Killers’.” (p.2 l. 59). He knows his classics, but t
The writers"tm books are not good enough, in fact they bore him. But unfortunately it has not made him happy, at least not for the rest of his life. There are three main themes in this short story depending on how one reads it. People tend to make little sarcastic remarks such as those of the narrator when they see pictures of victims of torture or starving children on TV because we have seen it all, or even worse things, in the cinemas and have "learned" to think; it is on the screen, it is not real, it cannot harm me. Movies and TV-shows have diminished the effect violence used to have on people. It is as if he sees the World as one big book to be reviewed by him. The last two things are particularly interesting because they can be a part of the reason for him being so cynical and sarcastic. Perhaps he is just a man who believes him self to be above all others and who no one and nothing can satisfy. The fact that he recognises a cow and a bull as being Europa and Zeus indicates once again that he is well-educated and the fact that he finds it so tacky that he cannot fight back the titters just emphasizes his feeling of superiority. The thing he remembers is an incident when he was a child, where a young boy says "they is" instead of "there is". The fact that his daughter is a professor of economics proves that we are dealing with a well-educated man, who can afford to give his daughter a good education. Nothing can impress this man, except from that childhood memory of Coyle"tms cousin who did not speak grammatically correct. His girlfriend was not good enough for him, his wife could not keep him interested and just when something exciting happened in his life, such as an armed robbery, the whole thing turned out to be a complete disappointment of old cliches and horny cows.