— This book is hard to peg down, genre-wise, and this fact only emboldens it and makes it more powerful. In a whirlwind 160 pages, Nelson meditates on motherhood, writing, and life with her fluidly gendered partner. At once a poem, a lyric essay, and an academic study, it not only attests to her deft poetic hand, but her whip-smart ability to participate in traditional academia while simultaneously subverting it. This is one of those rare works of literature where the writing itself becomes a product of its subject matter: constantly shifting, bending, and even questioning itself. A must-read for anyone interested in gender theory, motherhood, psychology, and well, humans, really.— From Margaret's Picks
An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family
Maggie Nelson's "The Argonauts "is 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. At its center is a romance: the story of the author's relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson's account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.
Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson's insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.