Bullet in the Brain

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Bullet in the Brain is a short story about a sarcastic book critic, who allows his criticism to extend to his everyday life and soon learns why that is not a good idea. Anders is known for "the weary elegant savagery with which he dispatched almost everything he reviewed." He is portrayed as especially unsympathetic. He is standing in line at a bank and gets stuck behind two women whose loud stupid conversations put him in an angry mood. He engages in sarcastic, belittling repartee with the women when a robbery occurs. Two men wearing black ski masks are standing on the side of the door. He can not resist making an acid comment about the language of the robber when one of the robbers threatens the teller that she'll be dead meat if she turns on the alarm. The woman tells him to be quiet, but he does not seem to recognise the reality of the dangerous situation. When one of the robbers says "Then Shut your Trap, "Anders recognises the clichés found in Hemmingway's crime fiction, the Killers. He attracts the attention of the robber, who pokes the weapon into his guts. He stares at the ceiling and finds the painting ugly and amusing. The robber thinks that Anders is making fun of him and says, "Fuck with me again, you're history. Capriche?" He laughs at the inauthentic language and says, "Capiche- oh, God, capiche". He seems to view the event as an uninvolved critic and can not stop reviewing - even when his life depends on it. The bank robber shoots the critic in the head, starting off the real part of the story- "the first appearance of the bullet in the brain set off a crackling chain of ion transports and neuro-transmissions" that set loose a final, poignant memory. The remainder of the story is a list of incidents that the victim does not remember during the seconds while he is dying, followed by what he does recall. What he does not remember are disappointments in love, disappointments in family relationships, professional jealousies, the mounting "boredom...
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