A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments is a 1997 collection of nonfiction writing by David Foster Wallace.
In the title essay, originally published in Harper's as "Shipping Out", Wallace describes the excesses of his one-week trip in the Caribbean aboard the cruise ship MV Zenith, which he rechristens the Nadir. He is ironically displeased with the professional hospitality industry and the "fun" he should be having and explains how the indulgences of the cruise turn him into a spoiled brat, leading to overwhelming internal despair.
Wallace uses footnotes extensively throughout the piece for various asides. Another essay in the same volume takes up the vulgarities and excesses of the Illinois State Fair.
This collection also includes Wallace's influential essay "E Unibus Pluram" on television's impact on contemporary literature and the use of irony in American culture.
Essays collected in the book:
- "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley" (Harper's, December 1991, under the title "Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes")
- An autobiographical essay about Wallace's youth in the Midwest, his involvement in competitive tennis, and his interest in mathematics.
- "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction" (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 1993)
- "Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All" (Harper's, 1994, under the title "Ticket to the Fair")
- Wallace's experiences and opinions on the 1993 Illinois State Fair, ranging from a reports on competitive baton twirling to speculation on how the Illinois State Fair is representative of Midwestern culture and its subsets.
- "Greatly Exaggerated" (Harvard Book Review, 1992)
- A review of Morte d'Author: An Autopsy by H. L. Hix, including Wallace's personal opinions on the role of the author in literary critical theory.
- Wallace's experiences and opinions from visiting the set for Lost Highway and his thoughts about Lynch's oeuvre.
- "Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness" (Esquire, 1996, under the title "The String Theory")
- Wallace's reporting of the qualifying rounds for the 1995 Canadian Open and the Open itself, with the author's thoughts on the nature of tennis and professional athletics.
- "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" (Harper's, 1996, under the title "Shipping Out")
- Wallace's experiences and opinions on a seven night luxury Caribbean cruise.
In popular culture
In his 2011 book That Is All, John Hodgman titles a chapter about taking a cruise "A Totally Fun Thing I Would Do Again as Soon as Possible." The name of the 2012 Simpsons episode "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again" also references the title essay. Tina Fey's 2011 memoir Bossypants also includes a chapter on her own cruise experience, entitled My Honeymoon: Or, A Supposedly Fun Thing That I’ll Never Do Again Either, in which she jokingly suggests that those who've heard of Wallace's book should consider themselves members of the "cultural elite", who hate their country and flag.
- Wallace, D. F. (1997). A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-92528-4
- Wallace, D. F. (1996). "Shipping Out", Harper's Magazine, January 1996 (292:1748)
- "Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise", Harpers Magazine. Also known as "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again".
- "Ticket to the Fair", Harper's Magazine. Also known as "Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All".
- "The String Theory", Esquire. Also known as "Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness".
- "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction", The Review of Contemporary Fiction.
- "David Lynch Keeps His Head" Premiere, 1996
- "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley", Harper's Magazine. Originally under the title "Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes"
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UT Daily Beacon
Mon, 23 Mar 2015 23:56:15 -0700
My only frame of reference was David Foster Wallace's literary essay, sardonically titled "On a supposedly fun thing I'll never do again." As you might gather, he doesn't think too highly of cruises, and the essay details his many reasons why. He goes ...
Boston Globe (subscription)
Boston Globe (subscription)
Mon, 09 Mar 2015 21:03:02 -0700
“A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again” by David Foster Wallace (in particular the classic title essay and “Ticket to the Fair,” about the Illinois State Fair orginally published in Harper's in July 1994) is full of frenetic delights. More funny ...
New Zealand Herald
Sat, 21 Mar 2015 12:46:37 -0700
... but Wolfe was writing during a full-blown war, and Dyer's quieter book seems to me less like classic war journalism and more like David Foster Wallace's account of his time aboard the Zenith cruise ship, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again",
Sun, 15 Mar 2015 06:30:00 -0700
Like any good hipster, I try to jump off the bandwagon at every opportunity… unfortunately, though, I just can't shake my David Foster Wallace habit. From Consider the Lobster to Infinite Jest, when I'm feeling high or low, it's Foster Wallace I look ...
Wed, 11 Mar 2015 06:52:30 -0700
Mimi Baird was just shy of 6 when her father essentially disappeared from her life without explanation. By the time Baird was 8, her mother had remarried, and the family lived comfortably in suburban Boston. Some 50 years later, Baird began to seek ...
Thu, 04 Dec 2014 13:44:29 -0800
I envision what David Foster Wallace described in his uproarious essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again": a tacky all-inclusive resort on water, complete with cramped quarters, all-hours stuffing-of-face with mass-produced eats, sunburned ...
Wed, 11 Feb 2015 07:56:15 -0800
Everybody knows cruises are basically floating, kitschy death cults, thanks to David Foster Wallace's famous essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." Knisley herself invokes Wallace early on. She sketches a witty little portrait of him ...
Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:09:13 -0800
You know the kind: mop-haired hipsters dragging themselves through The Broom of the System, Wallace's first novel, getting their angry fix from the essays of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster. I was one of them. I am ...
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