Ken Jennings Has Some Questions About Death

Sarah Larson in The New Yorker:

In 2003, Ken Jennings was a twenty-nine-year-old software engineer, living in a suburb of Salt Lake City with his wife and young son, when his old college roommate suggested that they try out for “Jeopardy!” A year later, Jennings, a trivia enthusiast who’d grown up watching the show, made it on the air, had a seventy-four-game winning streak, and won more than $2.5 million, becoming the winningest “Jeopardy!” contestant of all time. (He still is: a year and a half ago, Amy Schneider, the second-winningest, won forty consecutive games.) After Alex Trebek, the show’s beloved host, died in 2020, the show endured an uneasy era of temporary hosts and executive blunders. But now Jennings helms the show, in rotation with Mayim Bialik—and “Jeopardy!,” that reliable source of answers-in-the-form-of-a-question comfort, once again feels like it’s in good hands. Jennings is a natural, ably enhancing the game’s inherent charms with warmth and wit, fostering an atmosphere of collegial curiosity. He even manages to make the show’s personal-anecdote segment the least awkward it’s ever been.

In the past two decades, Jennings has also written several books, hopping from subject to subject in the way of a great generalist: there’s trivia, sure, but also comedy, geography, everyday myths, a variety of fact books for kids, and, now, the afterlife. “100 Places to See After You Die” is a gung-ho travel guide to Heaven, Hell, and beyond, as represented by mythology, religion, literature, and pop culture, extending to realms including Narnia, the Outer Planes from Dungeons & Dragons, and the mid-century gag comic “They’ll Do It Every Time.”

More here.