My ebook version of “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” by David Foster Wallace came with three essays: one on David Lynch, one on professional tennis, with the titular one last. I gave up halfway through the tennis essay: Lynch gives me the creeps and I’ve never had an interest in tennis, so you’ve got to give David credit for keeping me reading that long despite my total lac of interest. He’s a very earnest, funny and low-ego narrator with excellent observations and descriptions. Not to mention the delightful use of language. But, you know. Lots of tennis terminology.
Then I picked up the book more than a year later, finished the tennis essay and devoured the cruiseship essay. It was excellent reading during a hard moment in my life: no damning social commentary, no eco-apocalypse, no genocide angle, no doom. “A Supposedly Fun Thing” has a very exotic subject – the crazy world of the Caribbean cruise. It presents the narrator as a clueless character trying to find out more about the workings of the cruiseship for his magazine assignent, while loathing the phenomenon of the cruise and also finding himself getting sucked in to the “nonstop pampering”. It’s bascally a series of hilarious yet highbrow anecdotes.
It’s long – in all three essays it seems like Foster Wallace worked free from editorial constraint, and even with this limited pruning he puts in everything else that he wanted to write but that impedes the flow, in footnotes. With this as an ebook on my Kobo it meant that nearly half the book length was footnotes, and due to a technical hitch I couldn’t read them in “real time”(it takes me to the footnote, but doesn’t let me jump back to my place on the main text). Still, I read through the footnotes one by one out of context – some of the best anecdotes were in there.
You can read this review of “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” on Goodreads.