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

This is a series of essays published in 1997 that are intriguing, challenging and elusive to a degree. Wallace clearly was one of the most intellectual and inventive writers of his time. It is gravely unfortunate that he committed suicide in 2008, not only because it robbed the world of a unique literary voice, but also because reading these essays it is impossible to consider each and every page without the spectre of his eventual suicide looming tightly overhead. In these widely different and intense essays Wallace ranges far and wide. Competitive tennis, television, the films of David Lynch and taking a week's long cruise all fall under his sharp satire and consideration. Laughing out loud occurs often while reading. So does a sense of sadness for his sheer difficulty in living, breathing and enacting with the "normal" world. His perceptiveness is so intense that sometimes it is difficult to follow and I found myself wishing that I was reading the book instead of listening on CD so that I could easily go back, re-read and reconsider several passages. Almost burdened with the sharp clarity of an artist's eye, Wallace must have found the world a terribly difficult and burdensome place to exist in. Of course, that's too easy to say knowing fully that short of 20 years after these essays he would kill himself. Despite that, the book is entertaining and curious, intellectual to a fault, but never less than satisfying. I feel "A Supposedly Fun Thing..." might be quite a hard go for many readers, but if you find excellent writing on non-fiction topics to be entertaining, you cannot go wrong with this book.

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