Published by Graywolf Press on May 5th 2015
Buy from IndieBound
“How does one get across the fact that the best way to find out how people feel about their gender or their sexuality—or anything else, really—is to listen to what they tell you, and to try to treat them accordingly, without shellacking over their version of reality with yours?
If you mix together one part theory, one part memoir, and a hearty dose of love story, you’ll end up with something like Maggie Nelson’s new book The Argonauts. Nelson’s story follows both the birth of her relationship with Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, and the birth of their son. Between the narrative of their meeting, marriage and family-building, Nelson digs deep into questions of gender, sexuality, motherhood, and the individual. Though she turns to various thinkers as a base for many ideas, her commentary feels fresh and incredibly timely.
“That hormones can make the feel of wind, or the feel of fingers on one’s skin, change from arousing to nauseating is a mystery deeper than I can track or fathom. The mysteries of psychology pale in comparison, just as evolution strikes me as infinitely more spiritually profound than Genesis.”
As I read The Argonauts, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation. Though Offill’s work is fiction, both pieces shift big ideas into compact spaces and read like a collection of swirling thoughts. Much as I felt after reading Dept. of Speculation, as soon as I closed The Argonauts I knew it was a book I would pick up again (and again and again). Perfect for book groups looking for the challenge of digging deep, Maggie Nelson has penned a piece with endless opportunities for questioning and discussion.