A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again by David Foster Wallace

A supposedly fun thing I'll never do againSynopsis of the title story:

David Foster Wallace describes his experiences and the excesses on a seven-day-cruise he undertook for Harper’s.







In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes, very much, but I have to enjoy David Foster Wallace’s style in small doses

For people who like: Extravagant writing style, very clever authors, excessive use of adjectives and out-of-the-ordinary vocabulary.

My thoughts: 

If you are not a native English speaker (and most likely even if you are) don’t forget to bring your dictionary! God, this guy uses words that I have never heard before and even native speakers that I asked said they had no clue what he meant. Not sure whether this means David Foster Wallace is (was) so very clever that only a handful of people (none of which I know) understand him 100% or whether he just likes to throw around obscure adjectives for the heck of it.

You want an example? The “preterite staff” of a cruise ship. I have found plenty of websites on the net where they quote the passage containing that term, but none of them questiones the meaning, so there must be people to whom it makes sense. I don’t know what “preterite staff” could possibly mean. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

Anyway, this story was extremely funny and people who have been on cruises will probably recognize a lot of their own experiences in it. Mr. Wallace is not the typical cruise vacationer, that’s for sure, and his observations are delivered with a certain air of resignation about the state of humankind. His analyses of hierarchy among the staff and other topics border on the obsessive with so many twists and ifs ands or buts in his thought process that they are interesting and very amusing to follow, but at the same time you go “bloody hell, don’t make it more complicated that it has to be!”

I did notice a certain tendency to go on about Aryans in various contexts, something I don’t overly appreciate, but maybe I am a tiny bit sensitive here.

Oh, and if you are a lover of footnotes, you will have a blast. Sometimes the footnotes are over a page and sometimes even the footnotes have footnotes! This was the first story by David Foster Wallace I ever read, but it won’t be my last. Just, I have to digest him in small doses. 

Movie tip:

The Love Boat (then again, maybe not)


Product info and buy link :

Title A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again
Author David Foster Wallace
Publisher Abacus
ISBN 9780349110011
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again
More info More about David Foster Wallace and his books

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Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

2 Comments Write a comment

  1. Oh my! At some point this book was on my wishlist but I took it off again – can’t remember why, maybe just because the library (system) didn’t have it, not sure now. The book sounds one that you don’t read, but study! You probably need a lot of patience and not want to race through the book. One to keep in mind (after renewed checking of availability)!
    Leeswammes (Judith)’s last post ..Quick Book Review: The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai


    • The title story was very entertaining, Judith. The other essays are on various other subjects, the first one for example didn’t do it for me at all, I found it rather strange. DFW needs getting used to, it seems.


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