Little Expressionless Animals

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"Little Expressionless Animals" is a 1988 short story by David Foster Wallace. It was first published in The Paris Review, and reprinted in his short story collection Girl with Curious Hair. The Village Voice described it as "riveting".[1] The main narrative of the story is told in a cut-up style, with events taking place in a nonlinear fashion to increase dramatic tension.


Julie Smith is a contestant on Jeopardy!, an American television game show, in the 1980s. After her fourth win, the show's producers decide that she is popular enough that they will not limit her to five appearances (as was the practice at the time). As a result, Julie wins every Jeopardy! game for three years, and uses her winnings to pay for the care of her autistic brother.

As Julie consistently wins every Jeopardy! match, studio executive Merv Griffin decides to increase the tension within the show by secretly convincing Julie's brother to compete against her, and rigs the game in his favor by selecting only questions that relate to animals — the only category with which Julie struggles.


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