The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life, by Alex Trebek

Eight stars

I was quite pleased to be able to get my hands on this brief autobiographical piece by Alex Trebek. He entertains readers with some pieces from his long time in the public spotlight, as well as many of his more personal moments. Trebek hails from Sudbury, Ontario and grew up in a loving home, where he was able to develop as a fully bilingual child. Trebek speaks a great deal of his diametrically opposed parents—a heavy drinking father and teetotaling mother—which made their match anything but smooth. However, this did not deter Trebek from carving out his own niche, which saw him find his own fair share of trouble in school and a brief, unsuccessful bout in military college. With his smooth talking and love of interacting, Trebek soon found himself working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in both radio and television, which proved to be a wonderful stepping stone for him into a career where he would be a household name. Trebek earned his keep in Canada and was soon working many important events and rubbing elbows—albeit lightly, we are Canadians—with some celebrities. Trebek was lured to the United States to try out for some new and intriguing game shows that were being bandied about, something that proved to be the place Trebek thought he belonged the most. After a few duds, including The Wizard of Odds (??), Trebek found some success and was eventually cast as the host for the revival of Jeopardy. Trebek spends a great deal of time sharing insights into the goings-on of this, his most popular television show. Quick to ensure the reader is aware that it is a quiz and not game show, Trebek regales the reader with funny quirks that occurred during his 36 years at the podium, as well as many of the foibles and successes the show has witnessed. While he continues to struggle with cancer, Trebek offers the readers some encouragement that no one is invincible and that he is not the be all and end all of Jeopardy, but simply the host who is willing to hand over the reins to another, whenever the time might come. Modest to a fault (Canadian, remember), Alex Trebek will likely never know just how many lives he has touched with his quick banter and quiz show moments. I am proud to have had to time to discover more about the man who has become a household name, even without Vanna White complementing him five times a week! Recommended to those who enjoy biographical pieces that seek to shine a light on the lighter side, as well as the reader that enjoys learning tidbits that Jeopardy never could offer through the television.

When I first got hold of the book, I was slightly dismayed. A man of eighty who has done so much and the book is short. I expected a tell-all with long chapters and many pieces of information that would have me thirsting for even more. However, once I got started, I began to see that Trebek, who was in the middle of chemotherapy and was close to two score old, would likely want to get this piece out quickly and highly key moments, rather than create a substantive narrative about each event. Trebek breaks things down into small vignettes, titling them with some of the catchphrases used on Jeopardy, which makes it much more digestible and easy to devour in short order. Trebek has much to say and does so with ease, even if he won’t expand on all the details. He discusses the crafting of the show, how contestants are vetted, and what sorts of categories have been presented over the years. He is keen to also share some of his own persona anecdotes about some of the more notable contestants (going so far in the audio version of the book as to let Ken Jennings narrate all but a few vignettes). Trebek, who was once known as having quite the potty mouth in Hollywood, is down to earth and loves his family so very much, as it becomes apparent with each passing story. While brief, I was so very pleased with what he had to offer and hope others will pick up a copy of their own. Answer: Alex Trebek. Question: Who is a man with a legacy that will surely outlive him and all his accomplishments!

Kudos, Mr. Trebek, for all you have shared. I admire you and all you have done. You make Canada (and the world) proud with your many accomplishments and charitable work!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: