The bullet smashed Anders’ skull and ploughed through his brain and exited behind his right ear, scattering shards of bone into the cerebral cortex, the corpus callosum, back toward the basal ganglia, and down into the thalamus. But before all this occurred, the first appearance of the bullet in the cerebrum set off a crackling chain of ion transports and neuro-transmissions. Because of their peculiar origin these traced a peculiar patter, flukishly calling to life a summer afternoon some forty years past, and long since lost to memory. After striking the cranium the bullet was moving at 900 feet per second, a pathetically sluggish, glacial pace compared to the synaptic lighting that flashed around it. Once in the brain, that is, the bullet came under the mediation of brain time, which gave Anders plenty of leisure to contemplate the scene that, in a phrase he would have abhorred, “passed before his eyes".

Dose the whole phrase means: He remembered 40 years ago. and remembered things(a summer afternoon) that he completely had forgotten.?

Or Dose it means: He was forty years old.?

Or does it mean: suddenly he died in a summer afternoon?

Dose calling to life means: remembering?

(Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff)

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    Your first paraphrasing is correct. Note that calling to life implies means the experience was so vivid / lifelike it was more like re-living the experience (as if it were actually happening again) rather than "remembering" it (as a "memory"). Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 12:36

1 Answer 1


flukishly calling to life

[The bullets passed through his brain] fortunately, or even surprisingly, rekindling a vivid memory...

a summer afternoon some forty years past

...of a summer afternoon forty years ago...

and long since lost to memory

...that had been forgotten a long time ago (by Anders).

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