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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments (1997)

por David Foster Wallace

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4,184692,082 (4.16)118
A collection of keen observations, witty analyses, and essays on a wide range of subjects exposes the fault lines in today's society.
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I suspect that if all the topics DFW takes up in these essays interest you: tennis, academic literary philosophy of the last forty years, state fairs in the midwest (Illinois in this case), more tennis, and spending a week on a luxury megacruiser . . . then you would be in a state of ecstasy and wonderment. I wasn't sure I was interested in any of these topics, and that proved to be true for tennis and also for the deconstructionists etcetera, which has always struck me as the kind of foolishness that (appropriately) gives academia a bad name. However the two on 'human folly' are brilliant, beyond brilliant. In both cases Harper magazine paid DFW to investigate these phenomena in person, to give his unvarnished unblinking take. In the state fair piece, he wanders the fairgrounds in 90 plus degree heat for six or seven days, watching people, among other things, eat, show off farm animals, dance, throw batons, and take rides guaranteed to make them throw up. Throughout, both the fair and the luxury cruise, he exists mostly in a state of uncomfortable bafflement and shame that he can't understand not even one tiny bit why anyone would want to go the a huge fair or on a cruise, to the degree that no doubt he couldn't help wondering if he wasn't some kind of alien being. The operant word in the cruise was 'pamper' -- and I expect that overlap of diaper and being taken care of like a baby -- got fixed in his mind then and used later to such effect in IJ. The writing is sublime and there is humour, pathos, startling insight, brutally clear description and always the kindness to the foibles of humanity that DFW is known for .. all the qualities that made him so amazing. I found myself missing his presence among us terribly. We could use his insights now. ****1/2 (five stars for the Fair and the Cruise) ( )
  sibylline | Mar 28, 2021 |
I gave this book one star when I read it back in 2009. Upon thinking about it, I'll give it two stars. It did make me watch "Lost Highway" which is worth it if only to see Robert Blake's performance. The book was at times thought provoking. I was glad to say I have read a David Foster Wallace book. That being said, I didn't really care for the book. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Well, I’ve now been introduced to the writings of David Foster Wallace and I have to say that…well, the jury has come back with a positive verdict, but I don’t think it was really a 12-0 vote. There are very entertaining and interesting aspects of his writing. And the asides and drill downs that seem to be an important aspect of his writing generally work. However, the details sometimes become too much, as do the asides.

To start with, let’s dismiss two of the pieces: “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S Fiction” and “Greatly Exaggerated” which are far too focused on very specific aspects of fiction. E Unibus etc. does have some interesting things to say about entertainment – television, etc. And reading this with our infinitely-wise hindsight makes for some interesting insights. But the piece itself then digs into that whole literature thing – stuff geared to a literature-oriented audience – and the ears become singed by things going in one and out the other.

Moving on. The first piece is as close to straight-ahead essayism as any piece here. A description of Wallace’s days as a junior tennis player are fun and entertaining. (And, interestingly, it lays a foundation for a later piece.)

It is the remaining four pieces that (I must assume) most resemble Wallace’s writing. And they are the ones that are most worth reading. “Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All” describes a few days visiting the Illinois State Fair. “David Lynch Keeps His Head” is a report on Wallace being on hand as David Lynch is allowed on site for part of Lynch’s filming of Lost Highway – and in the process, providing an in-depth look at Lynch’s work. “Tennis Player Michael Joyce’s Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness” (besides winning an award for longest titles – an easy observation, but no one said I worked that hard on these reviews) looks at professional tennis by following an almost-top-notch player through one tournament. (There’s that tennis experience thing I talked about.) And “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” is Wallace’s experiences on a 7-day cruise of the Bahamas.

The state fair and cruise ship articles definitely have the vibe of the stranger visiting a strange land. On the other hand, the tennis and Lynch articles, while still representing exploration into lands unexplored, are based on some familiarity by the author.

But all contain the asides, footnotes, arbitrary topic categorizations, and nigh-on stream of consciousness approach. (I say that last with some trepidation because, while it can seem stream of consciousness, it is obviously finely honed.) And this Wallace-onian type writing is why people pay the price of admission.

It sometimes stretches too thin. For example, the David Lynch article is 65 pages long and the cruise ship article is 100 pages. That means the digression and detail can get on one’s nerves. But the successes far outweigh the occasional misfires. These are different explorations than most of us are used to. And that is what, when they work, is what makes them work.

All said and done, I would go ahead and recommend this collection. As implied, you might want to skip two of the pieces. But the others are interesting for their content and for their approach. And, at the end of the day, it made me want to put together my own private David Lynch film festival. ( )
  figre | Nov 2, 2020 |
A collection of essays on various subjects dating from twenty years or so ago. The title essay describes DFW's experiences of a seven night Caribbean cruise with his acerbic observations on the various follies of the crew and passengers and idea of cruising. Some of the essays didn't age too well, with allusions to people and things that were topical at the time I found hard to remember or care about at this remove. ( )
  rmagahiz | Jul 9, 2020 |
"I have felt as bleak as I’ve felt since puberty, and have filled almost three Mead notebooks trying to figure out whether it was Them or Just Me." ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
David Foster Wallaceautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Calvo, JavierTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Etienne, Jean-RenéTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Goerlandt, IannisTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Ingendaay, MarcusTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Ostuni, VincenzoTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Piccolo, FrancescoTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Testa, MartinaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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When I left my boxed township of Illinois farmland to attend my Dad's alma mater in the lurid jutting Berkshires of western Massachusetts, I all of a sudden developed a jones for mathematics.
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Lonely people tend, rather, to be lonely because they decline to bear the psychic costs of being around other humans. They are allergic to people. People affect them too strongly.
Rural Midwesterners live surrounded by unpopulated land, marooned in a space whose emptiness starts to become both physical and spiritual. It's not just people you get lonely for. You're alienated from the very space around you, in a way, because out here the land's less an environment than a commodity.
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A collection of keen observations, witty analyses, and essays on a wide range of subjects exposes the fault lines in today's society.

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