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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.

- 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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230 news items


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 ...


Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:34:49 -0800

David Foster Wallace, the post-modern maximalist known for his 1,079-page opus Infinite Jest, popular essays like “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,” and his posthumous novel The Pale King, would have been 53 today. Since his death in 2008, ...
Washington Post
Tue, 10 Feb 2015 11:12:53 -0800

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 ...


Tue, 17 Feb 2015 15:37:30 -0800

She recently read a book, published in 1997, by David Foster Wallace, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments.” He writes about the excesses of his one-week Caribbean cruise. He describes, in detail, what goes on at a state fair.


Thu, 04 Dec 2014 13:22:30 -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 ...

Slate Magazine

Slate Magazine
Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:52:49 -0800

Soon one young woman is alone reciting a section of “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,” Wallace's existential and occasionally uproarious account of a cruise on what he calls the Nadir. These sections are funny, and the audience laughs at ...


Wed, 25 Feb 2015 07:00:00 -0800

David Foster Wallace hat eines seiner bösesten und komischsten Bücher über eine Karibik-Rundreise geschrieben: "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again". Und Jonathan Franzen lässt in den "Korrekturen" seinen Alfred Lambert vom Oberdeck eines ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sat, 24 Aug 2013 16:06:41 -0700

Elizabeth Greenwood - A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace: The concrete brackets bookending Elizabeth Greenwood's structure symbolise the ship aboard which Wallace describes his cruise to the Caribbean in his essay 'A ...

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