The Argonauts, reviewed

The ArgonautsThe Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Argo was a boat that went on a long voyage, thus were the sailors aboard her Argonauts. But though parts of the vessel were periodically replaced over the course of her proud pilgrimage, the identity of the Argo remained sacrosanct. The Argo was still the Argo even if the planks and boards, from stem to stern had been replaced. It is the same kind of alchemy as when the shapeshifters and gender benders of The Argonauts changed genders, or adopted fluid genders — a middlesex as it were — neither fish nor fowl.

The Argonauts is a mémoire/philosophical discourse on motherhood, gay rights, gender, and feminism, not necessarily in that order or disorder. Liberally spiced with philosophical quotations galore, it tells the story of Harry and Maggie, and the birth of Iggy, their son. You don’t really learn the gender of Harry until pretty far into this saga — though you might have guessed by then. But though these topics and concerns are not my obsessions —NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT, to quote George Costanza– I thoroughly enjoyed the lucid and thoughtful prose of Maggie Nelson.

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