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David Foster Wallace made quite a splash in 1996 with his massive novel, Infinite Jest. Now he's back with a collection of essays entitled A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. In addition to a razor-sharp writing style, Wallace has a mercurial mind that lights on many subjects. His seven essays travel from a state fair in Illinois to a cruise ship in the Caribbean, explore how television affects literature and what makes film auteur David Lynch tick, and deconstruct deconstructionism and find the intersection between tornadoes and tennis.
These eclectic interests are enhanced by an eye (and nose) for detail: "I have seen sucrose beaches and water a very bright blue. I have seen an all-red leisure suit with flared lapels. I have smelled what suntan lotion smells like spread over 21,000 pounds of hot flesh . . ." It's evident that Wallace revels in both the life of the mind and the peculiarities of his fellows; in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again he celebrates both. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Like the tennis champs who fascinate him, novelist Wallace (Infinite Jest; The Broom of the System) makes what he does look effortless and yet inspired. His instinct for the colloquial puts his masters Pynchon and DeLillo to shame, and the humane sobriety that he brings to his subjects-fictional or factual-should serve as a model to anyone writing cultural comment, whether it takes the form of stories or of essays like these. Readers of Wallace's fiction will take special interest in this collection: critics have already mined "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley" (Wallace's memoir of his tennis-playing days) for the biographical sources of Infinite Jest. The witty, insightful essays on David Lynch and TV are a reminder of how thoroughly Wallace has internalized the writing-and thinking-habits of Stanley Cavell, the plain-language philosopher at Harvard, Wallace's alma mater. The reportage (on the Illinois State Fair, the Canadian Open and a Caribbean Cruise) is perhaps best described as post-gonzo: funny, slight and self-conscious without Norman Mailer's or Hunter Thompson's braggadocio. Only in the more academic essays, on Dostoyevski and the scholar H.L. Hix, does Wallace's gee-whiz modesty get in the way of his arguments. Still, even these have their moments: at the end of the Dostoyevski essay, Wallace blurts out that he wants "passionately serious ideological contemporary fiction [that is] also ingenious and radiantly transcendent fiction." From most writers, that would be hot air; from one as honest, subtle and ambitious as Wallace, it has the sound of a promise.-- also ingenious and radiantly transcendent fiction." From most writers, that would be hot air; from one as honest, subtle and ambitious as Wallace, it has the sound of a promise.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
What can you say about Wallace? Everything he writes has something thuoghtful and of value.Published on Jan. 23 2010 by Trying to TRI
Wallace is a fun writer. He's amusing. He tries very hard to spin the ordinary with a barrage of sidebars, witticisms, and irony. Read morePublished on Aug. 2 2007 by Reader and Writer
One of the most insightful collections of essays I've read in years, Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing explores contemporary life with fresh and vibrant language. Read morePublished on March 6 2004 by F. T. Tebbe
This was a thorough and entertaining read. I laughed all the way through.Published on Feb. 5 2004 by F. Bernhardt
...but i really loved this essay collection.
Wallace is (IMO) a totally hilarious writer and the essays collected in this book are astute observations and analyses of a number... Read more
Occasionally Wallace manages to craft a story or essay that holds interest throughout. More often, however, he uses language for no other purpose than to show his adeptness at... Read morePublished on May 5 2003
More brief than his novels, just as inviting, conversational, thought-provoking, and funny. The addition of a self-effacing first person is really charming. Read morePublished on April 12 2003 by Amazon Customer
Mr. Wallace isn't just funny (and he can be wickedly funny), he has a superb command of language, isn't afraid to use words, is beautifully observant, and has a great sense of... Read morePublished on May 21 2002