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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
First edition hardcover
Author David Foster Wallace
Cover artist Elizabeth Van Itallie
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Little, Brown and Co.
Publication date
1 February 1997
Media type Print (hardback, paperback)
Pages 353 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-316-91989-6
OCLC 35318437
Preceded by Infinite Jest
Followed by Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

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.
  • "David Lynch Keeps His Head" (Premiere, 1996)
    • 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[edit]

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)

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Supposedly_Fun_Thing_I'll_Never_Do_Again — Please support Wikipedia.
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231 news items

Broadway World
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:07:30 -0700

Fair Anger Productions is proud to present the world premiere production of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again as part of the 19th annual New York International Fringe Festival - FringeNYC. This groundbreaking essay by David Foster Wallace ...

The New Republic

Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:33:45 -0700

Then I was introduced to A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, which has the essay “Shipping Out,” the cruise ship essay. Why do you think there is so much angst from people who think this movie shouldn't exist? I think people feel very ...
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 05:03:28 -0700

Christopher Duva adapts and performs David Foster Wallace's best-selling essay A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, for the stage. The essay chronicled the writer's misadventures aboard a week-long Caribbean cruise and was published in the ...

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times
Wed, 22 Jul 2015 17:58:49 -0700

In works like the essay collection "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," the Kenyon graduation speech "This Is Water" and of course the mega-novel "Infinite Jest," he scalpeled into our cultural pathologies with keen observation and foot-noted ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:37:00 -0700

I've read two of his short story collections, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and Oblivion, several times, his essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, his various essays posted online, literary criticism related to his body of ...

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Sun, 12 Jul 2015 14:33:45 -0700

Director Daniel Fish, best known for his experimental adaptation of David Foster Wallace's “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,” has reimagined Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic as an intimate chamber production, with new music arrangements ...

Back Stage

Back Stage
Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:07:22 -0700

Starring Jesse Eisenberg as journalist David Lipsky and Jason Segel as famed author David Foster Wallace (“Infinite Jest,” “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments”), “The End of the Tour” follows the two characters on one of ...

Irish Independent

Irish Independent
Tue, 21 Jul 2015 23:33:45 -0700

Whether or not you believe that Harper Lee's newly published novel, Go Set a Watchman, adds to our understanding of To Kill a Mockingbird, or feel betrayed that the hero Atticus Finch has been revealed as a Ku Klux Klan member - or even both - it is ...

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