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addabook - The Argonauts
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The Argonauts
Maggie Nelson
read on September 27, 2018

While I think this was a good book - unfortunately, it was not a very good book to listen to. Maggie Nelson is a legit good writer, and the book is so littered with quotes and references that it became very difficult when listening to know when you were inside of a quote and when you weren't. The language in this book is really meant to be savored slowly, read and re-read - many sections are almost poetic in their brevity and impact, such that, when cruising through the audiobook, much is lost.

The book itself is about a personal relationship, and framed by personal events (pregnancy), but Nelson uses this as a structure to explore relationship through transformation. While Nelson is pregnant, her partner is undergoing FTM surgery/therapy, and these transformations provide different perspectives on normality and perceived experience that were very interesting.

Author Bio:

Maggie Nelson (born 1973) is an American writer. She is generally described as a genre-busting writer defying classification, working in autobiography, art criticism, theory, scholarship, and poetry. Nelson's work has included writing on art, feminism, queerness, sexual violence, the history of the avant-garde, aesthetic theory and philosophy. She has addressed a number of autobiographical themes in her work. Her memoir about her family, media spectacle, and sexual violence, titled The Red Parts, is the second of two books she wrote about the 1969 murder of her aunt, Jane Mixer. The Argonauts documents a period in time in which Nelson's partner, Harry Dodge, is taking testosterone and having a double mastectomy, and Nelson is pregnant with their son. The book explores themes like the body, gender fluidity, and love through memoir and theory. Bluets is a meditation on the color blue, but also details Nelson's recovery from a break-up while caring for a friend who had been rendered quadriplegic. Her writing is inspired by other feminist writers including Eileen Myles, Wayne Koestenbaum, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, James Schuyler and Allen Ginsberg. She describes her book The Argonauts as a "a long tribute to the many feminist heroes that I had as teachers, men as well as women" to whom she refers to as "the many gendered mothers of my heart", a phrase she borrows from poet Dana Ward.