The other night I watched The Third Man and thought that's how to do it. It's so simple: a guy named Martins arrives in town to take a job that’s been offered to him by a friend, but he immediately discovers that his friend has been hit by a car. And at the funeral, everybody—the dead friend’s lover, the witnesses, the police—have a slightly different story about how the accident occurred.
All of the plot’s other touches hang on this simple gimmick: the post-war international intrigue, Martin’s dime store cowboy tales, his comical lecture on the modern novel at a cultural institute, the disquisitions on good, evil, innocence and guilt. Once you’ve set up the Rube Goldberg contraption of the plot, the rest is gravy. But as much as I love a good plot, I can’t come up with a compelling one. My brain is rotted with 40,000 hours of televised contrivance. It's August. I haven't taught in a while and my brain's gone soft.