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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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1381 news items


Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:20:20 -0700

A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again. Trapped somewhere between hagiography, period piece, roadtrip film and feature drama, "The End of the Tour" struggles in its attempt to capture a picture of the late author David Foster Wallace. by Matt ...

National Post

Wed, 26 Aug 2015 22:03:45 -0700

Zoom out far enough — above the many strata of context, adaptation, consent and timing — and “The End of the Tour” appears as a period road-trip piece about writing and celebrity, and also about men; how they size each other up, their petty ...
River Cities Reader
Sun, 23 Aug 2015 18:45:57 -0700

I've read, for example, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Remember the Lobster in their entirety at least three times each – numerous stories within have been read more than a dozen – and also own the Wallace-read audiobook of Remember ...

Duluth News Tribune

Duluth News Tribune
Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:52:30 -0700

A: I just finished “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again” by David Foster Wallace. He's just brilliant. He includes footnotes that kind of get to the core of our psychoses. There's a great essay in the book about going to the Illinois State Fair ...

Austin American-Statesman (blog)

Austin American-Statesman (blog)
Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:37:30 -0700

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.” David Foster Wallace is on our minds recently with the release of the road movie/sorta-biopic, “The End of the Tour.” “Shots” co-host Tolly Moseley recommends, if like her you couldn't make it through ...
Bedford + Bowery
Wed, 05 Aug 2015 12:19:58 -0700

In the wake of the latest wave of David Foster Wallace fever comes “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,” adapted from DFW's essay of the same name. The show sees DFW, played by Christopher Duva, aboard an “insanity-producing pampering” ...

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune
Fri, 07 Aug 2015 09:18:45 -0700

With apologies to the late David Foster Wallace, I'm calling today's column "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." Wallace, the poignant and prolific author, penned a book of essays under that title in 1998, and it was widely beloved. His essays ...

Huffington Post

Huffington Post
Fri, 28 Aug 2015 05:29:06 -0700

Poor David, now the subject of a "grotesque parody" via Jason Segel, also got his own play at Fringe in the form of dramatic readings from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. The way his work -- largely through his Kenyon Commencement Speech ...

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