Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life

Lulu Miller (Author)
Available

Description

A wondrous debut from an extraordinary new voice in nonfiction, Why Fish Don't Exist is a dark and astonishing tale of love, chaos, scientific obsession, and--possibly--even murder.

"Lulu Miller draws a heartening lesson--that chaos, which comes for us all, can be defeated by sheer human stubbornness." --Los Angeles Times

David Starr Jordan was a taxonomist, a man possessed with bringing order to the natural world. In time, he would be credited with discovering nearly a fifth of the fish known to humans in his day. But the more of the hidden blueprint of life he uncovered, the harder the universe seemed to try to thwart him. His specimen collections were demolished by lightning, by fire, and eventually by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake--which sent more than a thousand of his discoveries, housed in fragile glass jars, plummeting to the floor. In an instant, his life's work was shattered.

Many might have given up, given in to despair. But Jordan? He surveyed the wreckage at his feet, found the first fish he recognized, and confidently began to rebuild his collection. And this time, he introduced one clever innovation that he believed would at last protect his work against the chaos of the world.

When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote in passing, she took Jordan for a fool--a cautionary tale in hubris, or denial. But as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps instead he was a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. What she would unearth about his life would transform her understanding of history, morality, and the world beneath her feet.

Part biography, part memoir, part scientific adventure, Why Fish Don't Exist reads like a fable about how to persevere in a world where chaos will always prevail.

Product Details

Price: $26.00  $23.40
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published Date: April 14, 2020
Pages: 240
Dimensions: 5.6 X 1.0 X 8.5 inches | 0.8 pounds
Language: English
Type: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781501160271
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Lulu Miller is a Peabody Award-winning science reporter who has been working in public radio for over fifteen years. She is a cofounder of NPR's Invisibilia, a show about the invisible forces that shape human behavior. She is also a frequent contributor to Radiolab. Her writing has been published in The New Yorker, VQR, Orion, Electric Literature, Catapult, and beyond. Her favorite spot on earth is Humpback Rocks.

Reviews

"Stunning and brilliant and completely un-sum-up-able... I love this book so much!"
-- John Green, New York Times bestselling author of Turtles All the Way Down
"Wholly unique and a true delight!"
-- Refinery 29
"A wild ride... that upends our idea of what fish (and we) are in the grand scheme of things."
-- Slate
"I love this book's profundity and wit, its moments of darkness and heart-bursting euphoria, and I love the oddball, literary charisma of the mind that wrote it. Plus, by the end--I'm not joking--Lulu Miller may have actually cracked the secret to life."
-- Jon Mooallem, author of This is Chance!
"Riveting. Surprising. Shocking, even! Why Fish Don't Exist begins with a mesmerizing account of the life of distinguished biologist David Starr Jordan--and then, quite unexpectedly, turns into so much more. Narrated in Lulu Miller's intimate, quirky voice, this is a story of science and struggle, of heartbreak and chaos. This book will capture your heart, seize your imagination, smash your preconceptions, and rock your world."
-- Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of The Soul of an Octopus
"Some years back, Lulu Miller disappeared down a very strange rabbit hole that led her to places neither she nor you would ever be able to anticipate. I highly recommend you follow her down the hole, because of her singular and gigantic gifts as a writer and storyteller, but also because of what's down there: love, chaos, strychnine, a gun, dangerous delusions, heroic dandelions, a cow, a snorkel mask through which grander truths are revealed... This book is perfect, just perfect. It's both lyrical and learned, personal and political, small and huge, quirky and profound."
-- Mary Roach, New York Times bestselling author of Stiff
"What a delightful book... Ms. Miller wields [Radiolab's] familiar format with panache, spinning a tale so seductive that I read her book in one sitting."
-- The Wall Street Journal
"Riveting and rollicking... total magic."
-- Garden & Gun
"From page one, Lulu Miller is building something. A personal philosophy. A story. Of a man. Of America. It's all of these things but it's something bigger still and it all happens so gradually that by the last few pages I was shocked to find myself in tears. Like in her best radio stories, Lulu Miller coasts along, easy and seemingly without effort until she cold-cocks you. This book is a beautiful reminder of the sublime mystery of our being alive."
-- Jonathan Goldstein, creator of the podcast Heavyweight
"I want to live at this book's address: the intersection of history and biology and wonder and failure and sheer human stubbornness. What a sumptuous, surprising, dark delight."
-- Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties