A Review of the Book Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff

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The whole story seemed a joke at the beginning with the main character ‘snickers. And critics on everything, but when all of a sudden he was shot cold-blooded in the head, matters turned serious. In a moment his entire life was wiped out and only little pieces remained of his existence.

It is very peculiar the way in which the anecdote is told, although in his rhetoric representation the author presents a reality many people face at some point in their lives. I couldn’t understand at the beginning what was the point with telling the memories that Anders could remember and the ones that he could not. Anders seemed quite a jerk for all I cared, but then I understood the author’s intention and was able to see things through his character’s eyes.

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To be honest I thought the author was just confusing the reader by placing too many details that I considered weren’t needed, but the writer knew better than just jotting down senseless stuff. It was analyzing with my classmates that I got to what I understand is the right conclusion. The memories, the important ones, the ones that should have been special were there to express how passionless Anders was living.

What the anecdote tells me is that for his brain not to have recognized them as valuable he must have not felt amiable towards them. At the beginning he was harsh with his critics but in the core he was just a human being who had lost his way, from what’s understandable because he’d become someone who couldn’t see the beauty of things, not even in his own life. He was a person who had a sad perspective of the world.

Anders was so accustomed to certain things in life that they didn’t seem to have a shine any longer, but he wasn’t an idiot after all. Like all of us he started his life as a blank slate, nothing disturbed him, and the simplest thing, a phrase he’d heard when he was a child in particular, fascinated him in a way that not even Shakespeare’s best novel could have.

For some reason, by the time he became an adult he couldn’t see the luminosity in life, and he was like a zombie even previous to the shot, the magic was gone a long time before. Something came to his life and took it away like it’s happened in many cases with other people, and the only difference is the way in which they’ve reacted.

After reflecting deeply on Anders’ situation I came to the point where I said to myself “Haven’t I been there as well before?” Once I realized that things not only get sometimes monotonous, but lose their brightness. Like a song when it’s played too many times, the beauty that could be seen before escapes the beholder’s sight because he’s already so used to it that he can’t recognize what attracted him to it in the first place. Of course if the beholder forgot about the same song and came back to it after a while, he could find anew what caught his attention the first time, but in occasions people stick to the first impressions and don’t believe in second chances.

Whatever happened to Anders to make him become the person he was, I think it’s happened to all of us, we start to see the whole picture and realize that the sun is not always in the horizon. Although I am realistic that’s where I differ from Anders because he rathered to look at the emptiness of things, but even if life seems dark and lacking spark sometimes, it is not like the sun won’t come out tomorrow. Wolff’s play of wiped out and remaining memories were essential for the understanding, and his character helped me see the worst way one can react towards life.

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A Review of the Book Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff. (2023, Jun 14). Retrieved from


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