Nelson, Maggie. “The Argonauts”, Graywolf Press, 2015.
In “The Argonauts”, Maggie Nelson’s memoir, the concentration is on motherhood, love and gender fluidity. This is not the motherhood we see every day but rather an exploration of every possible perspective concerning being a mother and that changes the way we think about “the political, philosophical, aesthetic and personal”. I call this philosophical memoir, a genre busting tapestry of writing a life. Nelson presents timely and fresh ways to think about desire, identity, love and language.
offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. This is also a look at Nelson’s romance with the artist Harry Dodge. She writes about falling in love with him and what makes that so interesting is that Dodge is ”fluidly gendered” and with her telling this story we get a look at her pregnancy and the difficulties and the joyous benefits of creating a queer family.
The real beauty of this memoir is that in it is written intellectually as Nelson explores what theorists have had to say about gender, sexuality, marriage and raising children. Nelson, herself, demands radical
individual freedom and the acceptance of the value of caretaking. There is the union of autobiography and critical theory and we get stories of “sexual and intellectual and maternal passion”.
Nelson looks at the prefabricated structures of thought and feeling and does not hold back on how she feels about them. She presents a way of thinking that both challenges and liberates. In doing she urges her readers to do the same. Regarding motherhood, we are reminded that mothers are looked at as both peripheral and central in modern American culture. Mothers, however, are not regarded with social, political or economic value. Instead they are regarded as domestic necessities that are rarely listened to. She also spends a great deal of time discussing pregnancy and suggests that there is something “queer” about it. In fact, Nelson questions everything.