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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by [Wallace, David Foster]
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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1102 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (28 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0089YGX9G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,932 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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By A Customer on 7 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Sadly, the end of an all-too-brief flirtation with DFW's shorter-format writing as I've simply run out of patience with his massively self-indulgent style. All the bigger pity, because when he's operating in pure reportage mode - on board a cruise liner, or at a state fair - he's incredibly good. Observant, opinionated, perceptive and very, very funny. But as essayist, he becomes an incredibly dense and difficult read. Almost wilfully so, as if his attitude is, "I can really *write* using a vocabulary and style that might leave you floundering. I think it's really great - but too bad if you can't keep up." Nobody doubts DFW's scholarship, but it's just unpleasant to have it flaunted so obviously. After a while floundering along in his wake, you just feel inclined to leave him to amuse himself (which he's clearly doing anyway, with/without your company), and try something a little more approachable - like maybe Tolstoy in the original Russian...
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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 naïve 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Foster Wallace's roaming eyeball of a reporter sets out to see what it can see ... at the state fair, on a cruise ship, playing tennis, considering irony in the age of the television .... Nothing can prepare the unwary reader for what lies in store: you basically have to surrender and let him lead your field of vision where he will. And if you do, it is a truly reorientating and strangely uplifting experience.

For what it's worth, I think Wallace's collected essays (of which this one of three volumes, see also Consider the Lobster and Both Flesh and Not) are the most accessible and persistently enjoyable of his books. If you like these, try the short stories next, notably Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and (though only occasionally) Girl with the Curious Hair. Then you are probably ready to try one of his three novels, the third of which was incomplete at his death. Most famous of those is Infinite Jest, which is enormous but engrossing. I actually think the essay on tennis in this book (Supposedly Fun Thing) is a helpful thing to have read before trying to get too far with Infinite Jest. He captures the relentlessness required of those who would play tennis, which is later cross-compared to a kind of drug addiction in his novel.

The three famous pieces in this collection include his irony essay, which is pretty persuasive but somewhat close to the world of the academic essay on literary criticism, so possibly not for everyone. But the state fair account captures perfectly the sense of someone dislocated from what appears to be passing for normal fun and enjoyment, and yet unable to believe that they are the one who is lost. If you've ever been there, which is to say if you are a human being in the late-capitalist Western world, you will enjoy it.
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