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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Argonauts

At Book Expo this year, I stopped by Graywolf Press to see what they had coming available because I really love Graywolf Press. They produce a ton that fascinates me, and Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts was strongly recommended. I read it immediately and couldn't believe my eyes. 

Maggie fell in love with artist Harry, her fluidly gendered partner, and became a stepmom to her young son. She later gives birth to their son together, and in time they learn how to become a family. This first-person memoir follows Maggie through falling in love with Harry, establishing a relationship and a family, and having a child one one's own, and it combines her memory with theory on gender, sexuality, motherhood, and love.

I was really blown away by the power in this small book. It's not a lot of pages, but it packs a powerful punch. I was absolutely blown away by how deep Nelson was willing dig in her own life and thoughts and feelings and lie it bare on the page for her readers to digest. It almost felt like she cut open her chest to show us her heart and, in turn, allows us to judge it all for ourselves. Truly incredible. Her mix of theory and quotes with her own life is a researcher's dream (that's me!), and the beauty of her prose mixed with the thoughts of others lent itself to an indulgent and raw portrait of a marriage that is doing what everyone wants it to do -- work.

Nelson is a bit of an inspiration in this piece; I want my writing to lie myself bare the way that hers does. Her words hold so much power -- so much honest and raw power, that it goes beyond sexuality, gender, and relationships. This is about what it means to be human. To not make sense sometimes, to love unconditionally and beyond belief, to question your own thoughts and decisions, to live in denial about who we are and what we want to become. This is one that will stay on my bookshelf, and I will go back to it time and again. 

For purchase below. 

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