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For This ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ, Profitable Got here Earlier than the Buzzer

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IN THE FORM OF A QUESTION: The Joys and Rewards of a Curious Life, by Amy Schneider


Amy Schneider is without doubt one of the “Jeopardy!” greats, second solely to Ken Jennings in video games gained (40 to Jennings’s 74). She’s fourth total in regular-season winnings ($1,382,800) and fifth when you embody tournaments ($1,632,800). In her new memoir, “Within the Type of a Query,” she locks down a No. 1 spot, although, for greatest grasp. Extolling the virtues of leisure medicine, the thrills of informal intercourse, the flirting potential in providing tarot readings? Ken Jennings might by no means.

In “Query,” Schneider bounces between bloggier, jokier chapters (“Why in God’s Identify Did They Make ‘Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue’?”) and extra revealing, nonetheless jokey ones, about her gender transition and different formative experiences (“So if You’re Trans, Does That Imply You Like Guys?”). Her prose is heat and humorous, although the omnipresent snarky footnotes generally deflate moments of earnest momentum.

Different instances, the little sidebars are residence to a number of the extra endearing jokes, corresponding to describing “The Music Man” as “most likely the perfect work of literature ever written in regards to the everlasting battle between unsophisticated farmers and the grifters who wish to promote them musical devices at above-market costs.” That is, deeply and utterly, a theater-kid ebook.

“With regards to different individuals, I don’t have a setting between ‘at the very least barely uncomfortable’ and ‘virtually disturbingly snug,’ between ‘co-worker’ and ‘Elena Ferrante character,’” Schneider writes. That comes via right here, and the extra Ferrante-ish chapters are the ebook’s most fascinating. Maybe there may be much less of a necessity for itemizing the meanings of every tarot card, or an essay describing how good the TV present “Daria” is.

Photographs from a handwritten diary entry from the day her first spouse left; her candor about self-loathing (“I saved a psychological record of all my shortcomings, all my failures, every little thing I needed to really feel ashamed of, and I tended to that record with nice care, at all times looking out for alternatives so as to add to it”); the nervous ecstasy in her trans awakening — that’s the place the ebook feels probably the most particular and alive.

The gossip in any of us will at all times yearn for extra comfortable tales of intercourse and medicines, and Schneider has a bunch of enjoyable ones. “There’s an enchanting nocturnal world on the market, and the one individuals who can entry it are those that have executed some blow,” she notes. Certain, having a long-term accomplice who cares about you may be fulfilling. “However once you hook up with any person who doesn’t know you effectively, then it have to be as a result of they’re sexy for you, and that feels nice!”

Fleeting moments of righteous bitterness — “not that every little thing about my spouse’s sexual relationship with a mysterious homeless felon that she met at a comedy open mic was good” — and tossed-off traces about acrimonious good friend breakups and decades-long love triangles add edge and poo.

Within the scheme of “Jeopardy!” memoirs, this one will not be notably “Jeopardy!”-centric. There is no such thing as a training-montage part, no “Jeopardy!” battle room, and Schneider describes herself as a lonely and ambivalent scholar. Her self-actualization comes about not via a profession in software program engineering or via earning profits from trivia, however via removing the oppressive guilt and disgrace round intercourse and our bodies that coloured her whole younger life.

Fame is usually however not completely nice, she admits, and drifting too far into its bubble is harmful. “I really like what number of extra methods I can now think about life turning out for me,” she writes, although “icon, however like in a cautionary story type of means,” could possibly be considered one of them.

Trans tales are sometimes commodified for both distress or the Aristocracy within the face of distress, however “Within the Type of a Query” is a a lot fuller, livelier, extra textured and sardonic image. Whenever you win sufficient cash to stop your job, you truly get a brand new job, Schneider says. She describes hers, wryly however rightly, as “Well-known Celeb Trans Individual.” If this ebook is a part of the gig, issues appear to be they’re going fairly effectively.


IN THE FORM OF A QUESTION: The Joys and Rewards of a Curious Life | By Amy Schneider | 272 pp. | Avid Reader Press | $28