The Argonauts

The Argonauts

Paperback - 2016
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"A genre-bending memoir, a work of 'autotheory' offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. It binds an account of Nelson's relationship with her fluidly gendered partner and a journey to and through a pregnancy to a rigorous exploration of sexuality, gender and 'family'"--Page 4 of cover.
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, 2016.
Edition: First Graywolf paperback edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781555977351
Characteristics: 143 pages ; 21 cm


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2015 National Book Critics Circle Award winner for Criticism.

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JCLHebahA Oct 18, 2018

I wish I could rate this book on multiple axes to better reflect that I loved the content and heart of this memoir (that of the formation of a queer family, what that means, whether it's radical or domestic) but really did not enjoy its borderline-academic style. And yet, the style was part and parcel of Nelson herself. Definitely a stylistic step out of my comfort zone, but enjoyable for the most part.

Oct 06, 2018

Entire paragraphs that I couldn't wrap my head around but somehow I enjoyed this book overall. It was word dense and scholarly with a sh*t-ton of name dropping of people I've never heard of. Somehow though, there was enough here that did interest me that I could plow through all of the stuff I didn't understand to find parts that interested me deeply. The author seems like an interesting person, deep and sexual and highly educated. I read another work by her that I liked a lot more but this one is worth a look-see if you want to learn a bit more about her. Oh, and she grew up in Marin (at least for a while), so that's another interesting angle.

DBRL_ReginaF May 03, 2018

This book has been on my to-read list for so long now but a co-worker challenged me to put it to the top. I have to say that the first paragraph is a shocker but don't let that stop you from reading this wonderful book. it has so much to offer on our perceptions of sex, gender, childbirth, family and so much more.

HMWLibrary2017 Jul 14, 2017

So inventive and personal! And, yes, even the critical theory parts. Memoirs seldom work for me because I have to like the person narrating, and I'm pretty picky (don't get me going on "Eat, Pray, Love"). I really liked Maggie Nelson and her family, and I loved how her life of the mind is also her life of the body - and of her love.

Jan 13, 2017

I read 1-2 books a week. I thought this would be an interesting read, but I found it to be word dense and too "heavy" in vocabulary to enjoy. Too bad. I lost interest after the first 10 pages, and skipped ahead, hoping it would improve, but it didn't. Would not recommend.

Nov 03, 2016

I have never read anything quite like this, and boy was it good! Maggie Nelson blends together beautiful insights into motherhood, the power of language and writing, and her life with gender-bending husband, Harry Dodge.

Her memoir is not for everyone. Parts seem more like an academic manifesto and can come across as a bit pretentious. For those who appreciate queer and gender theory, the way she weaves nuggets of theory into her personal experiences is both compelling and fascinating.

PimaLib_RachelW Sep 27, 2016

Maggie Nelson was just announced as a 2016 MacArthur Foundation Genius Award winner!

“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope. They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.”

—MacArthur President Julia Stasch

Read her books to find out why!

Sep 01, 2016

A beautiful, thoughtful journey not easily categorized. I have been thinking about The Argonauts frequently since I read the entire book in one sitting. Nelson weaves academic ponderings on philosophy, feminism, and gender theory with scenes from her own life. Poignant, illuminating, and timely.

Aug 11, 2016

It's not often that I read a book that I can't easily classify or explain. Maggie Nelson's "The Argonauts" (It takes its name from Jason's crew, who were seeking the Golden Fleece.) is superficially an essay and it is intensely personal, but it's also a manifesto, a memoir, a political piece, and an intellectual work. I can't say that I always understood it, but I admired it and it's not like much else I've read recently. If I had to distill its message, I'd say it's about the crossroads in gender and sexuality we currently find ourselves at, as traditional boundaries and lines are blurring (or becoming fluid, which seems to be the popular term). With its references to Deleuze, Lacan, and Wittgenstein, it can be a little overwhelming for the non-academic, but Nelson's writing is mostly clear and avoids academic wankery. My favorite sentence begins: "(Eve) Sedwick did an enormous amount to put women's anal eroticism on the map."

LPL_RachaelP Jun 09, 2016

An incredibly interesting, timely work on gender, identity, and family. I found the author's personal moments to be more compelling than the theory she presented.

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jenniferzilm May 02, 2018

“Empirically speaking, we are made of star stuff. Why aren’t we talking more about that?”


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