The Argonauts|Maggie Nelson
The Argonauts
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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. It binds an account of Nelson's relationship with her partner and a journey to and through a pregnancy to a rigorous exploration of sexuality, gender, and family. An insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.


  • ISBN-13: 9781555977351
  • ISBN-10: 1555977359
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publish Date: January 2016
  • Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.45 pounds
  • Page Count: 160

Book Clubs: Matters of the heart

Recommending four stellar book club reads that focus on the complications of love.

Lauren Groff’s electrifying, acclaimed novel Fates and Furies chronicles the vagaries of romantic passion through would-be actor Lotto and elusive Mathilde—a picture-perfect pair who meet in college and marry young. Through sections told from the perspective of each partner, the novel tracks the ups and downs of their 24-year union, and the two narratives powerfully play off each other. Mathilde’s secrets will surprise readers, and the book has a headlong momentum that suits its subject matter. From start to finish, it’s a thrilling look at the risks and rewards of love.

Mary Parsons, in debt and contending with health problems, is hired as part of actor Kurt Sky’s Girlfriend Experiment in The Answers, by novelist Catherine Lacey. Kurt aims to find a formula for the ideal romantic relationship, so he partners with women who have been prompted to display certain traits, such as Maternal Girlfriend and—in Mary’s case—Emotional Girlfriend. Mary is soon swept up in Kurt’s strange drama, and the narrative that unfolds is a disquieting and provocative exploration of the logistics of love.

Ian McEwan’s novel The Children Act tells the story of Fiona Maye, a respected judge coping with both a failing marriage and a difficult legal case. Nearly 60, Fiona finds herself at odds with her unfaithful husband while she grapples with a judgment involving a young Jehovah’s Witness, who, by forgoing medical treatment because of his religion, may die. This thorny ethical dilemma will provide fodder for book club debate. McEwan’s portrait of Fiona—an assured, confident figure who hides her vulnerability all too well—is wonderfully complex, and he presents a sensitive portrayal of a marriage that has reached its last chapter.

Poet Maggie Nelson reflects on gender, love and the nature of modern marriage in her remarkable memoir The Argonauts. Nelson, who is married to the transgender artist Harry Dodge, writes with candor about her experiences as a partner and new mother. Chronicling Dodge’s testosterone treatments and the process of her pregnancy (which involved in vitro fertilization), Nelson reflects on the changes in her understanding of partnership and the meaning of family. Rich in ideas, her book is a fascinating excavation of matters of the heart.

A BookPage reviewer since 2003, Julie Hale selects the best new paperback releases for book clubs every month.