Did Jeopardy Screw Up? 9/15

On tonight’s show one of the categories was “Pulitzer Fiction.” I don’t remember the exact ‘answer,’ but the contestant’s were required to provide the title of Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song.

I may have missed something but I believe Mailer’s book about Gary Gilmore was non-fiction.

From Amazon’s review: The Executioner’s Song is a work of unprecedented force. It is the true story of Gary Gilmore, who in 1977 became the first person executed in the United States since the reinstitution of the death penalty.

Did anyone else see this? Is it possible the category was “Pulitzer NON-fiction?”

The cover of The Executioner’s Song calls it “A True Life Novel,” and it indeed won the Pulitzer for fiction in 1980.

The Executioner’s Song won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was what Mailer called ‘a non-fiction novel.’

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction had previously (like, until 1946 or thereabouts) been called the Pulitzer Prize for the novel. Neither name for the award is perfect (non-novels have won, too, like South Pacific).

Think of it as a historical novel in which he history is quite recent.

I once caught an error in a Final Jeopardy question about the movie Gone With the Wind, and reported it to the discussion forums at the official Jeopardy! website.

I was promptly blocked. :mad:

It is similar to In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The story is true, but Mailer structures conversations between characters as if he had been there, and describes events he could not possibly have seen, even with the most diligent research. It is a brilliant book but it cannot be called non-fiction.

Yestersday jeopardy game
Category was “Fictions Pulitzers” and the answer was: “Norman Mailer won in 1980 for this grisly worker’s ‘Song’”.

The correct question is “The Executioner’s Song

Thanks. I actually read The Executioner’s Song and In Cold Blood back in high school. I knew about Capote’s book being a non-fiction novel; I guess I should have remembered Mailer’s book was the same genre.

Oh well. I should have never, ever doubted Jeopardy!

I once wrote a letter to Jeopardy! commenting on the fact that the stories they used in a category about the Darwin Awards would actually be what they considered “near-Darwins,” since they don’t involve the person either dying or ending up unable to reproduce. (Looking at the category on J-Archive.com, one of them doesn’t even count as either a Darwin or near-Darwin.) I received a very nice response which basically said “all of these stories came from the Darwin Awards website.” Figuring I couldn’t explain my point any further than I already had, I decided not to write a follow-up letter.

Wouldn’t the correct question for that answer be “What is the executioner”? Aren’t the asking for the name of the “grisly worker”, not the name of the novel?

The song Gilmore hears at the end of the novel, as he is being led to the execution, is actually Una Paloma Blanca. If I were the contestant, I’d be a smart ass and challenge them with that.

Yes but they generally don’t punish you for answering a question slightly different from the one asked, as long as you answer it correctly and provide the information they were looking for.

Since the category was “Fiction Pulitzers” your ‘question’ would have to include the book that won the Pulitzer.
[hijack]
Growing up in farm country, I knew small chickens were often called pullets. I always the thought Pulitzer Prize was some sort of mystery chicken casserole.
I even asked Mom to make “Pullet Surprise” when she asked me what I wanted for dinner one day.
[/hijack]

In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song (both excellent) are both considered creative nonfiction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_nonfiction

It might also be that there is some confusion between Mailer’s novel and Gilmore’s brother’s book Shot in the Heart, which is a non-fictional memoir, not a novel per se.

Is that really true? I’ve never heard of the category name having any bearing on what the correct “questions” can be except in the case of quotation marks in the category name. Since “song” was already included in the answer, I’d wager that “What is the executioner?” would have been accepted.

Case in point, in the same category for $2,000:

The answer is listed as “Mambo Kings” not “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love” which is the title of the book.

Not to pick on you, kapri, but this is one of the problems with using Wikipedia as a cite. The category was “Fictions Pulitzers” so the sole authoratative cite is the Pulitzer Prize Board. According to them, the winning novel in 1980 in the category “Fiction” was the The Executioner’s Song. The fact that somebody typed up a Wiki article about creative nonfiction (a genre recognized by no prize body I’m aware of) means absolutely squat.

This has nothing to do with Norman Mailer or the book, but is a funny story nonetheless.
About 10 years ago, a neighbor rushed over to my house and asked if I had seen “Jeopardy” a few minutes ago. I said I hadn’t and he went on to say the category was State Capitals, the Jeopardy answer was “The only “2 name” state with a “2 name” capital” and the correct question was “What is Santa Fe New Mexico”. He was anxious to tell me about this because he said they forgot another one. (I imagine he was all set to send a letter or E-Mail to "Jeopardy and tell them of their egregious faux pas).
I said okay what is it? He said they forgot about “New York, New York”. :smiley:
Well, his intellectual ego was quickly deflated when I quickly told him the actual capital.

I figured I’d bring this up for those of you that are quick to question the accuracy of “Jeopardy” questions and answers. If nothing else, look it up first.

Well, I can’t argue with you that Wikipedia shouldn’t be used as the be-all and end-all of sources, and I tell my students the same thing. In fact, I don’t allow them to use Wikipedia as a reference at all. But I am a writer of nonfiction as well as a writing instructor at a university, so my knowledge of what creative nonfiction is goes well beyond Wikipedia–I just figured it was a quick way to reference what I was saying here. Those two books ARE considered creative nonfiction, at least by many writers. Back in 1980, though, the term “creative nonfiction” was not widely used, and in fact, was not addressed at all when I was at grad school as a literature major in the 1980s. The following cite explains how the idea of creative nonfiction was viewed in a typical university in the late 1970s: http://tinyurl.com/nrjl4h

This might explain why The Executioner’s Song was categorized as fiction in 1980 instead of creative nonfiction, which is definitely a more accurate phrase to describe it.

I got a little too ambitious with researching and went beyond the allowed editing time for this post, but just to add some more information:

More cites: Digitool has movedOnline Bookstore: Books, NOOK ebooks, Music, Movies & Toys | Barnes & Noble® (see Mailer’s biography on this page) – http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Creative-nonfiction (see comment about The Executioner’s Song about halfway down, where it says “Noted practitioners of creative nonfiction include Norman Mailer: The Executioner’s Song is considered one of the finest examples of the genre and also Mailer’s best work, which won him his second Pulitzer Prize.”)

Also: http://www.pitt.edu/~bdobler/readingnf.html, where both In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song are named as examples of creative nonfiction.

I could go on, but I don’t want to be a P.I.T.A.