David Foster Wallace

Below is the beginning of his classic essay in Harper’s magazine, “Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise”, also published in his book of essays A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.  Download the entire essay at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Supposedly_Fun_Thing_I%27ll_Never_Do_Again.

When reading David Foster Wallace, it is important that you NEVER ignore the footnotes.  They are a vital part of your enjoyment and full understanding of his writing.  Sometimes they can be incredibly long, so long that when you return to the body of the work you have to go back half a page to remember what he was talking about.  But that is fine, because you will never read a more brilliant writer.

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I have now seen sucrose beaches and water a very bright blue.  I have seen an all-red leisure suit with flared lapels.  I have smelled suntan lotion spread over 2,100 pounds of hot flesh.  I have been addressed as “Mon” in three different nations.  I have seen 500 upscale Americans dance the Electric Slide.  I have seen sunsets that looked computer-enhanced.  I have (very briefly) joined a conga line.

I have seen a lot of really big white ships.  I have seen schools of little fish with fins that glow.  I have seen and smelled all 145 cats inside the Ernest Hemingway residence in Key West, Florida.  I now know the difference between straight Bingo and Prize-O.  I have seen fluorescent luggage and fluorescent sunglasses and fluorescent pince-nez and over twenty different makes of rubber thong.  I have heard steel drums and eaten conch fritters and watched a woman in silver lame projectile-vomit inside a glass elevator.  I have pointed rhythmically at the ceiling to the two-four beat of the same disco music I hated pointing at the ceiling to in 1977.

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