Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism
“The Argonauts is a moving exploration of family and love, but it’s also a meditation on the seductions, contradictions, limitations, and beauties of being normal, as a person and as an artist.”—The New Yorker
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. 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. “Nelson’s vibrant, probing and, most of all, outstanding book is also a philosophical look at motherhood, transitioning, partnership, parenting and family—an examination of the restrictive way we’ve approached these terms in the past and the ongoing struggle to arrive at more inclusive and expansive definitions for them.”—NPR
Maggie Nelson is a poet, a critic, and the author of several nonfiction books, including The Red Parts, The Art of Cruelty, Bluets, and Jane. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, and lives in Los Angeles, California.