Author(s): Maggie Nelson (CalArts)
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 the author's account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal 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 for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.
What a dazzlingly generous, gloriously unpredictable book! Maggie Nelson shows us what it means to be real, offering a way of thinking that is as challenging as it is liberating. She invites us to 'pay homage to the transitive' and enjoy 'a becoming in which one never becomes.' Reading "The Argonauts" made me happier and freer.--Eula Biss
Maggie Nelson is a poet, a critic, and the author of several nonfiction books, including "The Red Parts," " The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning," " Bluets," and "Jane: A Murder." She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and lives in Los Angeles, California.