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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 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.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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423 news items

The Portland Mercury (blog)

The Portland Mercury (blog)
Tue, 12 Jan 2016 09:54:08 -0800

It's so difficult to separate the character of Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) from the picture of David Foster Wallace on the back of A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. This movie will never not secretly be the story of David Foster Wallace ...


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

A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again. Matt Carney by Matt Carney Published: August 20, 2015 Updated: Aug 20, 2015. 0 shares. 0. Jason Segel appears as the acclaimed, late author David Foster Wallace in a scene from "The End of the Tour.

Entertainment Weekly

Entertainment Weekly
Mon, 11 Jan 2016 11:15:36 -0800

He also has signed on to star in Empress of Serenity, which was inspired by David Foster Wallace's essay “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.” Barry isn't his only small-screen project; he's a co-creator/co-writer/star of IFC's faux-documentary ...


Thu, 19 Nov 2015 13:21:49 -0800

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again” is one of David Foster Wallace's most famous and trenchant, hilarious essays. The piece — which is long, but worth it if you've not yet read it — chronicles Wallace's seven-night trip aboard a luxury ...

Village Voice

Village Voice
Tue, 11 Aug 2015 16:03:45 -0700

With the theatrical release of The End of the Tour (read the Voice's review here), David Foster Wallace has reemerged as a major topic of cultural consideration; the movie has inspired both passionate defenses and furious critiques, yet the one ...
Broadway World
Tue, 08 Sep 2015 11:07:10 -0700

Following a critically-acclaimed and sold out run at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival, Christopher Duva's adaptation of David Foster Wallace's essay, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, returns for a limited run as part of the ...
Broadway World
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:14:02 -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 Yorker

The New Yorker
Tue, 08 Sep 2015 09:31:21 -0700

I reviewed his essay collection “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again” for the New York Times Book Review, and his last short-story collection, “Oblivion,” for Salon. Until he committed suicide, in 2008, when anyone asked, I'd say that he was my ...

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