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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again [Paperback]

David Foster Wallace
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Feb 1998

A collection of insightful and uproariously funny non-fiction by the bestselling author of INFINITE JEST - one of the most acclaimed and adventurous writers of our time. A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING... brings together Wallace's musings on a wide range of topics, from his early days as a nationally ranked tennis player to his trip on a commercial cruiseliner. In each of these essays, Wallace's observations are as keen as they are funny.

Filled with hilarious details and invigorating analyses, these essays brilliantly expose the fault line in American culture - and once again reveal David Foster Wallace's extraordinary talent and gargantuan intellect.

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again + Consider The Lobster: Essays and Arguments + Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
Price For All Three: 26.97

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (5 Feb 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349110018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349110011
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Foster Wallace wrote the acclaimed novels Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System and the story collections Oblivion, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Girl With Curious Hair. His nonfiction includes the essay collections Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and the full-length work Everything and More. He died in 2008.

Product Description


It's the kind of book you can't even put down while brushing your teeth. He's damn good. I take my hat off to him. (GUARDIAN)

Enviably good. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Like sea air, David Foster Wallace is so bracing. (GLASGOW HERALD)

Brilliant. (MAXIM)

Book Description

*Razor-sharp cultural commentary and hilarious social observation from the bestselling author of INFINITE JEST.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Erratic but wonderful 7 Feb 2005
By its very nature (a hodge-podge of random musings, semi-academic essays and travelogues commissioned by glossy magazines), this collection is erratic in tone and occasionally in execution. Yet even at his least engaging and most wilfully opaque, DFW is still incredibly readable, pulling your intellect along as he spins off on any number of tagents. When he's at his MOST engaging, however, he's among the most appealing writers of either fiction or non-fiction at work today. I defy even the biggest DFW cynic to read the title essay, for example, and claim not be alternately amused and weirdly moved throughout its (countless!) diversions and narrative scenic routes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally original 28 July 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
David Foster Wallace is a unique voice, and this is an amazing collection of non-fiction: a great piece about going to a state fair (in all its consumerist ugliness), two brilliant items about tennis, an astonishing essay about a trip on a pleasure cruiser. Wallace looks at things we take for granted with a kind of ingenious cynicism that's funny, thought-provoking and sumptuously readable. He loves footnotes, and often his best material is in the footnotes. The essay about Michael Joyce (who he?) and his fledgling tennis career is worth the cover price alone - especially if you love tennis and are dismayed by how little intelligent coverage it gets. A really strong collection.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best writer around today 5 July 1999
By A Customer
Anyone who is reading this having just finished Infinite Jest, I can heartily recommend this book. This was the first Wallace book I read, and it got me hooked. Having read a lot of essays by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Martin Amis, I can honestly say that this is as good as anything by those esteemed writers. Wallace has a knack of making the truly bizarre somehow understandable. The essays are deeply funny, but never sneery or mocking. Wallace is just geniunely baffled by the wierder aspects of American culture (pro sport, Hollywood, agricultural fairs etc), and succeeds in poking good-natured but cutting fun at various excesses in American life. He combines the laugh-out-loud element of PJ O'Rourke with the intelligence and insight of Tom Wolfe. A must read for anyone interested in modern American culture, or who justs want to read a different and original collection of journalism
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it,you'll enjoy it. 17 July 2010
Hey guys, this books is great! No matter how potentially boring every subject may appear on the paper, - or be, actually,- DFW's take on it, piercing and wide-angle, deep and blatantly obvious, super-aware, informed and informing, honestly curious and godly jaded, hyper-connected across multiple mental and cultural territories, a 3D representation of it all, all of this, amusingly, at the same time, and it's all got to do with who we are... you just can't get enough of it.
I recommend it with no hesitation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A collection of essays by this engagingly nerdy and knife-point sharp and witty writer, who died by his own hand in 2008 at the age of 45, this book gives a flavour, no more, of his talent.

"Irony, entertaining as it is, serves an almost exclusively negative function," Wallace writes. "It's critical and destructive, a ground-clearing. Surely this is the way our post-modern fathers saw it. But irony is singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks." In his essay titled: E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, he writes at length on the uses and abuses of irony and ends with a plea for sincerity to make a come-back - as if the ironic could discard the thinking that has so enslaved them to ennui. He writes: "It is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy their cage." I found myself wanting to argue against him often, but his intellectual persona is the opposite of nave and his argument against irony is fuelled by a philosophy of creative energy that is more than just impressive in this book.

His humour can be devastating, as in the title essay which describes a Caribbean cruise he took aboard the ship Zenith (immediately re-christening it Nadir for the space of the voyage). But his intention in this novel is also serious. Of the Megaline ships he says: "It's not an accident that they're all so white and clean, for they're clearly meant to represent the Calvinist triumph of capital and industry over the primal decay-action of the sea." Indeed, he quickly comes to the conclusion that the constant activities, the "hard play" of gaiety, song, adrenaline, excitement, stimulation, are there to drown out the illusion of choice. You have no choice. You are aboard the ship and you will enjoy it.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing outing from a brilliant writer 8 April 2003
By "mbg71"
After being shelled into submission by "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" I was completely hyped at the prospect of reading this book. Particularly as I'd just read that it left Jonathan Franzen's book of essays "How to be alone" for dead (not that I've read it). Well, past the first couple of pieces I was seriously disappointed. This is not the reinvention-of-the-essay-as-we-know-it that I'd been told to expect. What we have is a mixed bag consisting of one autobiographical fragment, a couple of pieces of journalism-on-assignment, a couple of straight essays, and two hybrid journal-profile-essays.

"Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley", which is the opener, comes the closest to achieving the remarkable combination of intellectual intensity with emotional directness I saw in DFW's short stories. It's an honest childhood reminiscence, the only place in this book where we seem to be in the company of a living breathing human being. The second piece "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction" is an essay, pure and simple, and rather sober despite the DFW tics (footnoting; self-consciously neurotic patter). DFW's gloss on highbrow American fiction of the last half century or so is both straightforward and insightful, though I really wanted him to show off a little more. His focus is on the way irony has come to imbue almost every aspect of American intellectualism, an awareness that he uses to remarkable effect in his fiction, sometimes by deliberately foreclosing the ironic stance, sometimes by merely bending it to the realm of the what-if-I'm-not-being-ironic. The irony of ironies is that these insights into the blinders of contemporary writing manage to shed an unflattering light on the remainder of the book.

DFW is not a journalist, and not much of a hired gun.
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