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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: An Essay (Digital Original)

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  19,831 ratings  ·  1,633 reviews
One of David Foster Wallace's most famous essays, now available as an eBook short.

Beloved for his keen eye, sharp wit, and relentless self-mockery, David Foster Wallace has been celebrated by both critics and fans as the voice of a generation. In this hilarious essay, originally published in the collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, he chronicles seven day
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Published April 1st 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 1996)
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Oriana
Oh David. I miss you with a plangency that belies the fact that I never met you, never would have. You were and are and will always be such a serious force in my life.



I've read this two or three times, and a few weeks after DFW died I picked it up again, almost on a whim. I'd been having trouble finding something to sink my teeth into—I rejected Anna Kavan, William Vollmann, and Fellipe Alfau in short order—and I kind of pulled this book without thinking about the timing, refusing to consider m
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mark monday
he picked up a book. he read the book. it was him all over. the best version of himself! and the worst.

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what is postmodernism, really? is it a way to understand the world, to define the world, to separate yourself from the world... when you are actually a part of that world? a part of the so-called problem? you want to put a layer between you and the world. you are so much apart from it, right? an unwilling participant in all of those repulsive patriarchal and terminally corny signs and signifie
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Books Ring Mah Bell
This summer I got this book from the library. I started on the cruise ship story and soon realized I would want my very own copy to dogear, underline, and do other dirty booknerd things to.

David Foster Wallace, you are (were) genius! I think I may be in love with you! I love your footnotes- footnotes that range from a simple "duh!" or "!" to 2 page long footnotes that have footnotes themselves. Not a lot of authors could get away with that, but you, my love, can.
Could.
Did.
Whatever.

As I stated
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karen
this book made me wet myself. twice. i wish to god i was exxagerating. or elderly. but poor dfw on a cruise ship... no one has ever paired genius with social awkwardness more charmingly.
Geoff
This, my first experience reading David Foster Wallace, disabused me of a few prejudices that in retrospect seem shamefully naive, one of which being that objects of the American Media Hype Machine are necessarily mediocre. I believed that there had to be something vapid or cheap or sensationalist about things or persons that become loci of the intellectual-creative “next-voice-of-our-generation” ballyhoo. It’s tough not to be cynical. The whole zeitgeist of our times is cynicism, aloofness, a d ...more
Stephen M
A Definitely Awesome Thing that I’ll Most Certainly Read Again

Full disclosure: I felt the smallest twinge of disappointment as I read these essays; (not because of the quality therein—there’s hardly any disappointment to be had there—but because it dawned on me that Infinite Jest, a book that I had spent the better part of February and March, slaving over and worshipping, was not in fact some work of genius that grew out of the side of DFW’s head and broke off one night in a fit of divinely insp
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Aubrey
One of my more obsessive habits on Goodreads involves comparing books with others. If you're one of my friends, chances are I've clicked the little button on your homepage an average of three times, sometimes more if you have a particularly large library (looking at you, Hadrian/Kris/& co.) Throughout my nearly two weeks of reading this book, the prim and peppy 'currently-reading' would show up next to a record number of gleaming five stars, up near the tippy top if listed in order of rating ...more
B0nnie

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is a brilliant collection of "essays and arguments". This collection was published in 1997 exactly one year after Infinite Jest and is comprised of articles previously published from 1990 to 1996 in several different publications. His topics are tennis, television, a state fair, literary theory, David Lynch, and a luxury cruise. It doesn't matter if you are especially interested in these things or not, because you will be!

1. Derivative Sport in Tornado
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David
David Foster Wallace is one awesomely smart guy. This is both his greatest strength and his potential Achilles heel as a writer. Personally, I will read anything this man writes, because I think he is a true genius with a rare sense of compassion, and a hilarious sense of humor. Even when his writing falls victim to its own cleverness, I still find it worthwhile - perhaps because one senses that the writer is a true mensch (not something I feel when being dazzled by the cleverness of a Dave Egge ...more
Matt
For some strange reason back in junior high school we were allowed a brief recess after lunch. The problem here is that there was very little to do during this recess. Here are the three activity choices that I remember:

1. Mill around on the concrete like inmates always do in "the yard" on those prison television shows.
2. Play a game that one of my fellow scholars evidentally invented that involved a mob of guys bouncing a tennis ball off of a wall and trying to nail each other in the testicles
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MJ Nicholls
Goodness gracious. As much as I revere Wallace’s fiction—his attempt to rescue American culture from the despairing morass of self-aware ironical knowingness—his nonfiction is in another league. The sheer cinematic exuberance, the “floating eye” quality of these pieces is breathtaking and wonderful, bringing the reader as deep into each experience as is textually possible, and as close to Wallace as we can be on the page.

His fiction has a ‘surgical’ quality, much like J.G. Ballard or Will Self (
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Steve
Judging from the traffic tie-ups you see, I’m not the only one who slows down to gape at a car crash. The temptation would be even greater somewhere like Beverly Hills with a Ferrari involved. I suppose reading this book would fall under a similar rubric: gawking at a star betided by tragedy.

By nearly all accounts, mine and the MacArthur’s included, DFW was a genius. This is all the more obvious given the essay format—-a good way to highlight his gift.* He saw big pictures, as his social comment
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Teresa
David Foster Wallace é um GÉNIO!
Tudo o que escreve é revelador de uma Inteligência e Imaginação Ilimitadas.
É assombrosa a sua capacidade de observação, análise e exposição de situações e temas que passariam despercebidas ao comum dos mortais.

Este volume contém oito ensaios - alguns baseados na sua própria experiência como repórter contratado por revistas americanas - e o único discurso que fez para finalistas de um colégio.
É uma experiência única - umas vezes triste, outras divertida - "ouvi-l
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Madeleine
My woefully late introduction to David Foster Wallace came earlier this year when I noshed greedily on “The Broom of the System,” which humbled and fascinated and tickled and impressed the ever-loving shit out of me to the point where I only gave it four stars because the guy wrote it when he was younger than I am now and I have it on good faith that his later works are even better.

Reading this made me feel a lot of things -- the way it eased my unshakable sense of being lonely in a totally cli
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Ellen
Mar 03, 2010 Ellen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone - but don't skip the fine print
Shelves: essays

"a Kilroyishly surreal quality"


...I fell for DFW in the footnotes.

How was I to know? I don't read footnotes. When I edited a couple of books, I told the contributors, in draconian terms, that if the information wasn't important enough to include in their main text, delete the footnote; if it was, incorporate it into the main text.

Wallace puts many of his best lines, and a lot of himself, in his footnotes. They form a sort of counter-essay, hunkering below and complicating the essay above. When
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Moira Russell
Started rereading the titular (va-voom) essay to cheer myself up in migraine malaise. Dear God it's so fucking funny. Quite possibly the best essay ever. The spousal overunit moved into another room with his laptop to do homework because when I tried to read out sentence-paragraphs in acquiescence to the demand of 'What's so funny' I couldn't finish for giggling.
Lena
This collection of essays contains the two pieces that David Foster Wallace is probably best known for: "Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All," his observations on attending the Illinois State Fair, and "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," his musings on a week-long Caribbean cruise. Both pieces are truly fantastic reading, entertaining, educational and brilliant all in the same breath.

Since I've often suspected that a mass market cruise would mirror my own pers
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Mala

Recommended for: DFW naysayers.

This is gourmet meal with all the essential DFW ingredients: sparkling wit,a wicked & self-deprecatory humour,"self-consciously unself-conscious" irony,probing details but as is typical of pricey meals-- in healthy,small portions,easily digestible!
It is also very lovingly prepared in that the essays & opinion pieces here are heartfelt & personal,thus easily relatable.
I open the first chapter-'Derivative Sport in Tornado Valley' & am stumped! Tennis
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Adam Floridia
Consistently laugh out loud inducing, heartwarming, thoughtful and sincere, relateable, and difficult to put down. Holistically much better than "Consider the Lobster."

As with “Lobster,” the title essay in this collection was probably my favorite. Since reading while traveling prevented me from writing brief reflections on each piece upon completion, I will use my two hour lay-over in Minneapolis to consider the “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” essay.

First of all, I loved it and repe
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Janet
I’d like to add a new category to GR called ‘read enough’ – for those books that leave you staggering to your feet wiping the blood from your mouth conceding defeat. You know the gap between to-read and read. Amazingly enough I actually finished this book but only because the final 100 pages were footnotes followed by footnotes to his footnotes. Are you kidding me?

This is a collection of essays covering everything from playing tennis in the tornado belt to television and its relationship to U.S.
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Szplug
I'm bewitched by this glorious magenta cover with yellow starfish and the peculiarly flattened and shaped white font. I don't know why it is, but whenever I purchase the British edition of a book, inevitably I aesthetically prefer its differing cover artwork, layout, colour scheme, blurb text—the whole canoodle is just presented to this set of timeworn eyes in a more attractive package than what is offered from North American publishing houses. Not to mention that they generally even smell bette ...more
Cristina
Trattato di antropologia vacanziera.
Scanzonato ed irriverente David Foster Wallace. Una settimana in crociera ai Caraibi raccontata con l'ironia feroce dell'osservatore "esterno" al divertimento. Aggettivi come divertente, esilarante li bandisco a piè pari dal mio commento, forse in alcuni passaggi ho sorriso, ma direi che il retrogusto della lettura è stato l'amaro.
Si avverte un disagio che la sua simpatia non riesce a mascherare che lo porterà a trascorrere l'ultimo giorno della costosa cro
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René
This is a review not of the book, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again”, but the essay itself, which is contained in the book and accompanies a few other essays which I have not read.

This, hands down, the most powerful essay I have ever read. By that I mean that it resonated powerfully within me, and totally upended my conception of what first-person journalism could be. I’d already been profoundly wowed reading the account of eating lobster in his essay “Consider the Lobster” , but this,
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Ned Rifle
I feel a strange nervousness writing this review, not because of the fear of castigation (that, I must admit, thrills me), but because I now join the ranks of those who say things like: "over intellectualized diatribe" (this is out of context but still) "He's too clever for me I guess, because I was alienated from the writing." (this is somewhat jaded and sarcastic but still) " I found his writing a bit pretentious, and I just don't get the feeling he's being honest in the essays" (no qualifier ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
A piece which critically engages with DFW's essay, "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction," an essay which I think is central to understanding DFW and yet each time I've read it, most recently in its Both Flesh And Not incarnation, leaves me wondering if many of us DFWites have actually gotten around to understanding what he's saying there. So but this piece which I'll link to shortly, by Daniel Green and published over there at thereadingexperience, is the kind of critical engagement whi ...more
Cristina
Un libro che mi ha fatto ridere, sorridere e riflettere.

E' stato come salire a bordo della motonave Nadir e iniziare a osservare le persone e il mondo con lo sguardo attento e curioso di David Foster Wallace, all'inizio un po' spiazzata dalla precisione, quasi ossessiva, con cui descrive i dettagli senza mai perdere di vista il quadro d'insieme; abituandomi, pagina dopo pagina, al suo stile particolare che sembra procedere zigzagando, a volte in maniera confusa, tra gli strani meccanismi della m
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arcobaleno
Voce ...stonata!
Sì, simpatico Wallace. Non lo conoscevo. Ma, sinceramente, mi aspettavo un divertimento maggiore. Non so spiegare cosa non mi sia piaciuto o cosa mi sia mancato. Nel complesso mi è sembrato un po' ...freddino; oltre che dispersivo (metà romanzo si sviluppa nelle "note" a piè di pagina!)
Insomma, a parità di genere, il "nostrano" Severgnini mi entusiasma(va) di più, per spontaneità, partecipazione, semplicità, simpatia...
Aggiungo, per inciso, che non sono mai andata in crociera,
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Sandra
Ho avuto timore di cimentarmi con uno scritto di DFW da quando ho letto da qualche parte che leggere sue opere è come salire sulle montagne russe, ed io ho paura di salire sulle montagne russe.
Un vicino anobiano tempo fa mi convinse a cominciare da questo saggio e così ho fatto. Non me ne sono pentita. Non sono ancora le montagne russe, solo un certo rollio da mare mosso.
Si tratta di un lucido e spietato reportage su una settimana di vacanza in una nave da crociera extra lusso nei meravigliosi m
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Núria
Divertido, inteligente, mordaz, sutil, complejo, ameno, lúcido, así es DFW, siempre manteniendo una posición intermedia entre lo coloquial y lo elevado. No sabéis lo que os estáis perdiendo por no leerlo. Algunos de los ensayos que hay en este recopilatorio creo que son lo mejor que se ha escrito nunca. Más que nada me refiero al relato de las aventuras de DFW en un crucero de lujo. Imprescindible.
Florencia
Like most unbearably sad things, it seems incredibly elusive and complex in its causes and simple in its effect: on board the Nadir—especially at night, when all the ship’s structured fun and reassurances and gaiety-noise ceased—I felt despair. The word’s overused and banalified now, despair, but it’s a serious word, and I’m using it seriously. For me it denotes a simple admixture—a weird yearning for death combined with a crushing sense of my own smallness and futility that presents as a fear
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David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it fe ...more
More about David Foster Wallace...
Infinite Jest Consider the Lobster and Other Essays Brief Interviews with Hideous Men This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life The Broom of the System

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“Lonely people tend, rather, to be lonely because they decline to bear the psychic costs of being around other humans. They are allergic to people. People affect them too strongly.” 239 likes
“I have filled 3 Mead notebooks trying to figure out whether it was Them or Just Me.” 167 likes
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