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Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss,…
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Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of… (edició 2020)

de Lulu Miller (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
20312100,896 (3.98)1
Membre:albertgoldfain
Títol:Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life
Autors:Lulu Miller (Autor)
Informació:Simon & Schuster (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 240 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:***1/2
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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

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This is a wonderfully written book that includes science (mostly biology, specifically taxonomy), history, natural history, biography, memoir, psychology, a bit of philosophy and a pinch of true crime. And it works! I learned a lot and will be thinking about it for some time. ( )
  keywestnan | Mar 29, 2021 |
Lulu Miller, NPR journalist, grew up with a father who taught her that chaos rules everything, that the universe doesn't care about anything or anyone, and that any belief that anything matters is deeply unscientific. I can't imagine why she also grew up to struggle with whether there was any point to her own existence. (It's unlikely that her depression is the result of her father's world view, but honestly, I can't imagine how that helped. To be clear, the issue here is not atheism. It is, specifically, the belief that nothing matters, a belief I have not heard from my atheist friends, acquaintances, favorite scientific writers, what have you.) As Miller moved through her life, education, career, she struggled with the ups and downs of her life and depression--and at some point, discovered David Starr Jordan.

This is part memoir, part biography, part history of 19th century science.

Jordan was a taxonomist, eventually credited with discovering a fifth of all fish species known to science in his day. He traveled the world, collected specimens, described and classified them. He became president of a college, and then president of a university. He married, had children, his wife died, he married again, had more children...

He worked very, very hard to impose order on nature, or at least our understanding of it.

His magnificent specimen collections were destroyed multiple times, by lightning, fire, earthquake. He salvaged and rebuilt them each time.

Miller wondered if Jordan could provide the model for a life with positive meaning in the face of chaos. She plunged into a study of his life--reading everything by or about him that she could lay her hands on. She began to believe that a certain amount of self-delusion might be the secret to a happy and successful life. She does find a few instances along the way, things Jordan did that might make him a tad less likeable than he seemed...

And then, in the course of her persistent digging, she finds something that upends everything in the story of David Starr Jordan.

This is a fascinating and engrossing story, giving us an enlightening view of science in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century There is love, loss, passion, tragedy. The story of David Starr Jordan will kick you in the teeth.

And I can't tell you the worst and best bits, because honestly, I'd be cheating you if I didn't let you get there on your own. You're entitled to that.

Oh, and yes, Miller does tell us why fish don't exist

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook. ( )
  LisCarey | Mar 22, 2021 |
Excellent blend of memoir, history and science. Managed to bring personal into the story without self-indulgence. Truly enjoyed this one and author reading was also good. ( )
  maryroberta | Mar 16, 2021 |
(12) This is a type of book I am lately discovering - a type of memoir admixed with a life of an obscure famous person, or event, or disease. It reminded me very much of Hope Jahren's 'Lab Girl,' (which I liked better), Susan Orlean's 'The Library Book,' Robert Kolker's 'Hidden Valley Road.' In this case, it is about a naturalist who became the first president of Stanford in the late 1800's, whose life's work was cataloging and discovering new species of fish. Mostly about him but interspersed with chapters about the author's personal journey to find meaning in life. It was a rumination on Darwinism, on secular humanism, on the majesty of nature, on what makes us human beings get out of bed everyday when our existence is meaningless. We are 'a speck, on a speck, on a speck...'

There are some lovely parts about nature and quite beautiful writing. I especially loved her description of her father. And some of the chapters were insightful and well-written - I especially loved the chapter 'On Delusion.' This idea that happy people are a bit deluded about their own reality. Kind of hilarious - the whole psychology around "reframing" events in our life. How telling ourselves little white lies is really the secret to perseverance and satisfaction and good mental health.

I think some things were just an overreach though including the premise of the book - the fish not existing schtick - it didn't work for me. And the parallels between the ladder of nature and eugenics went on too long and felt misplaced. My biggest criticism is much of what was meant to seem impactful, instead seemed contrived and sometimes twee. It came off a bit jejune and histrionic - you should not write a memoir when you are in your 30's, right? I contrast this with Hope Jahren's musings on nature and her own struggles with mental health which felt authentic and borne of long suffering and reflection.

Anyway, quickly read and well-written. Almost too well-written - lovely form (amazing engravings! best part of the book) yet somewhat stilted substance. This would be a fabulous beach read on a much deserved and long awaited post-Covid vacation at the beach. ( )
  jhowell | Mar 7, 2021 |
This is a charming and surprising book!

It is partly a biography of Daniel Starr Jordan, an early twentieth-century taxonomist who discovered and classified a lot of fish. His life story is very interesting and takes some unexpected turns. It is partly Miller's memoir, talking about her search for meaning in her own life. Miller is fascinated by Jordan's indomitable enthusiasm for his work and his ability to remain optimistic despite a lot of major setbacks in his life. She hopes to find the key to his optimism, and to find meaning in her own life. Along the way, she makes some startling discoveries about Jordan, fish, and herself.

Miller's writing is delightful to read - she uses very poetic language with just a touch of conversational snark. The book is full of surprises, not only about Jordan, who is a fascinatingly complex character, but also about fish, eugenics, and philosophy. ( )
  Gwendydd | Feb 21, 2021 |
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