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

216 news items

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 ...

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Tue, 09 Jun 2015 14:06:16 -0700

7-9); Daniel Fish's “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again After David Foster Wallace” (Jan. 14-16); Rabih Mroué's “Riding on a Cloud,” about the psychic devastation of Lebanon's civil war (Jan. 21-23), and “Germinal” by French artists Halory ...

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Tue, 23 Jun 2015 21:00:50 -0700

It was kind of inspired by David Foster Wallace's “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,” and it's not autobiographical, just about families, an area of interest. He also has another young adult novel, “The Haters,” due in the spring. He may try ...


Tue, 09 Jun 2015 12:12:36 -0700

According to Vulture.com, Segel read the Consider the Lobster short story collection, the A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again essay book, and the Infinite Jest novel. He also listened to past interview recordings and the 2005 Kenyon College ...


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 ...

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 ...
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 ...

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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