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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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212 news items


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 ...

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 ...
New York Times
Fri, 16 Mar 2012 07:00:48 -0700

ARDENT, even obsessive, fans of the novelist David Foster Wallace almost rival their idol in the torrents of words they use to detail their devotion. And if there is one constant within this torrent, it's the extent to which readers see their own ...


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 ...
Wed, 23 Jan 2013 23:06:28 -0800

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. For the late David Foster Wallace, it's a Caribbean cruise that leaves him slumped in the deckchair of despair. For me, it's the tenth masturbation joke in as many minutes. Watching stand-up comedy: A ...
Boston Globe
Mon, 25 Feb 2013 21:26:03 -0800

Writers: Conceived and directed by Daniel Fish., Based on works from “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,'' “Consider the Lobster,'' and “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men,'' by David Foster Wallace. Other Credits: Set, Laura Jellinek ...

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 ...
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 ...

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