The Argonauts

The Argonauts

eBook - 2016
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'A superb exploration of the risk and the excitement of change...An exceptional portrait both of a romantic partnership and of the collaboration between Nelson's mind and heart.' New YorkerWinner, 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism 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 centre 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. 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. 'Maggie Nelson slays entrenched notions of gender, marriage and sexuality with lyricism, intellectual brass and soul-ringing honesty.' Vanity Fair 'Nelson's writing is fluid—to read her story is to drift dreamily among her thoughts...She masterfully analyzes the way we talk about sex and gender.' Huffington Post 'One of the most intelligent, generous and moving books of the year.' STARRED review Publishers Weekly 'A book that will challenge readers as much as the author has challenged herself.' STARRED review Kirkus Reviews 'It might require a bit of work but The Argonauts rewards us with an expansive way of considering identity, caretaking, and freedom. Maybe it will change the way think and speak about others and ourselves?' Emma Watson 'So much writing about motherhood makes the world seem smaller after the child arrives, more circumscribed, as if in tacit fealty to the larger cultural assumptions about moms and domesticity; Nelson's book does the opposite.' New York Times Book Review 'A thought-provoking and fascinating read.' Otago Daily Times 'A wonderful genre-disregarding beast...Nelson has created a work that lets the reader into the intimate world of her love partnership and family, as well as engaging the intellect.' Readings 'I thought about copying down whole passages...Nelson's writing about gender is pretty wonderful. The reflexivity and circularity of her work resists over-simplifications.' Lifted Brow 'A song of praise for everyday, ordinary suburban life and simple pleasures.' Herald Sun 'An extraordinary record of a life that could only have been written in the early 21st century...[Nelson] is thoughtful, provoking and concise.' Stuff NZ 'Remarkable...Nelson has succeeded in combining self-expression and thinking through in a way that is as fundamental as it is compelling.' Age/Sydney Morning Herald 'Nelson is an electrifying writer, and The Argonauts is an intensely...
Publisher: 2016.
ISBN: 9781925410037
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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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.

r
redtayres
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.

z
Zedd
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.

LisaCasserole 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!

m
merliberry
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.

l
lukasevansherman
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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saintjennifer May 02, 2018

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

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