East Austin Book Club

Discussing books together, on the third Monday of every month at Native Hostel & Bar on Zoom, 7pm sharp

Why Fish Don't Exist

by Lulu Miller

Cover artwork for Why Fish Don't Exist

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.

Discussion questions

Jordan collected fish. What do you collect? Why?

The book is part biography, part memoir, and part moral instruction/philosophy. Did you like that these three disparate elements were combined? Which of these three elements was your favorite?

Do you matter, cosmically?

Kafka calls it the Indestructible—the thing at the bottom of each individual that keeps going whether they feel like going or not. The Indestructible is a place that has nothing to do with optimism—instead, it’s something far deeper and far less self-conscious than optimism—the Indestructible is the thing we mask with all sorts of other symbols, hopes, and ambitions—that don’t force you to acknowledge what is underneath.

In which ways did Kafka's Indestructible manifest in Jordan and Miller's lives? Did this concept resonate with you?

If you are willing, please share a time that you faced chaos/tragedy/loss and how it impacted you. Do you identify more with Jordan's impulse to immediately get to work or with Miller's experience of fixation and shame? How did that experience change you?

"Ignorance is bliss" or "the unexamined life is not worth living"? Can delusion ever be healthy?

Did he do it?

Does it matter to anyone but a taxonomist that fish don't exist?

Do you think the classification of life inherently leads to a belief in the hierarchy of life?

Which of the author's personal stories most helped you understand the concepts?

Slowly, it came into focus. This small web of people keeping one another afloat. All these minuscule interactions—a friendly wave, a pencil sketch, some plastic beads strung up a nylon cord—they might not look like much from the outside, but for the people caught inside that web? They might be everything, the very tethers that keep one bound to this planet.

What are the tethers that bind you to this planet? Are they all people?