November 16, 2008

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace

Sadly, I never heard of David Foster Wallace until he killed himself. My co-worker, knowing me to be a reader, told me the news, and then told me about the short story which is the title of this collection of essays and articles. McSweeney's started posting a bunch of memories and tributes to him, which also peaked my interest. He seemed like a nice man.

Even though A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is the last article in the book, I broke my habit of always going in order and started with it. It was the one I was most interested in, and perhaps I was apprehensive that he was a bit difficult to get into. I was mistaken. This extremely long article, originally published in Harper's magazine, was funny and absorbing. I loved his long, long footnotes. It's about a week-long Caribbean cruise he takes. You can guess from the title how he felt about it.

The story I next most enjoyed was an earlier Harper's article about his visit to a rural state fair. Besides that, there were a few academic articles I got bored of, and a few articles I skimmed because I enjoyed his writing but not really the topics (tennis, David Lynch.) I plan to attempt his thousand-page opus Infinite Jest at some point in the future.

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