Stefani's Reviews > A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
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's review
Oct 13, 11

bookshelves: funny

I've been led astray before. I started Infinite Jest an infinitely long time ago, with every intention of devouring the mammoth volume in a reasonable time frame. Although I didn't quite make it all the way through, DFW made a big impression on me—his rampant use of footnotes, his intricately woven descriptions and his near-constant thrashing of my intellect, for which I have not forgiven him yet.

I realize that DFW also inspires many gushingly praiseworthy reviews from Goodreads reviewers.

So, when I came across this little charmer, it seemed like a good alternative to beginning with the most epic of all DFW novels.

Ummm, yeah....except several of these essays were actually much much more abstruse than any one chapter of Infinite, and I couldn't, or more likely didn't, want to overtax my brain with that much thinking for fear it would explode. Essays in this vein included an astute analysis of a tennis match as well as an essay on TV watching. Skipped both, unregretfully.

DFW succeeded in writing a beautifully descriptive, howlingly funny and keen sociological analysis of participants at a midwestern state fair; I will always wonder if the people he chose to write about ever picked up his books. I am guessing the toothless carnie that replied, "Fuck you want" to DFW's inquiry about his boredom level wasn't exactly storming Borders to get a copy.

Same goes for the Celebrity Cruise story. I nearly expelled the liquid I was trying to swallow out through both nostrils when I tried to picture DFW lying in wait for the cabin steward, looking over his shoulder at every opportunity and jumping out from corners trying to catch her in the act of cleaning his room.

But, as others have noted, the consummate outsider status comes through in many instances throughout the novel. Whether that made DFW a more astute observer of people and places to make up for what he was lacking in his own life or if his humor was just a stand-in for intense mental turmoil, we'll never know.

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