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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.
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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298 news items


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 ...


Wed, 18 Nov 2015 14:07:30 -0800

But if you're expecting “Bill Hader Stars as David Foster Wallace in David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,” well, maybe don't expect that. The real shame here is that we were *thisclose* to living in a world where both of ...

Slate Magazine (blog)

Slate Magazine (blog)
Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:34:23 -0800

In her ode to the unsubtlety of the essay “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,” Megan Garber explained that author David Foster Wallace “could have easily Shown Not Told and Onion-Peeled and Sublimated his way through the story,” her converted ...


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. 0 shares. 0. Advertisement. photo - Jason Segel appears as the acclaimed, late author David Foster Wallace in a Jason Segel appears as the acclaimed ...

Flickering Myth (blog)

Flickering Myth (blog)
Thu, 19 Nov 2015 17:52:30 -0800

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl scribe Jesse Andrews (of both the novel and the screenplay) has just announced his next project, of which he will both write and direct. With Bill Hader now locked in as the lead, Empress of Serenity, which is inspired by ...

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 ...


Sun, 22 Nov 2015 16:38:01 -0800

First-time director Jesse Andrews wrote the original screenplay, which was loosely inspired by a 1990s David Foster Wallace essay entitled A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Novelist Andrews had a strong screenwriting debut in this year's ...

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:07:17 -0800

Loosely based on a story by David Foster Wallace (A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again), the drama will tell the story of a father and son who take an ocean cruise together, on which they attempt to bond over “intimacy issues.” Hader will play ...

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