The Argonauts

Narrated by: Maggie Nelson
Length: 4 hrs and 48 mins

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Publisher's Summary

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. At its center is a romance: the story of the author's relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson's account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.

Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson's insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.

©2015 Maggie Nelson (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Profile Image for Thomas Jaffray
  • Thomas Jaffray
  • 02-10-19


There's no engagement, just a drag to read. No sense of discovery, of the writer's joy, pain, frustration, heartache, etc... to events unfolding. Nothing to emotionally cling onto. Nothing driving it forward.

It leaves you feeling depleted. The monotone voice doesn't help matters. Just difficult to listen to / read. You don't want to spend any time with the writer, there's no warmth there; no passion or sense things moving along. A lack of a sense of journey through ideas.

The ideas are interesting though, it's just the presentation, the journey, and the structure of it that's lacking. If you're already interested in the topics, you'll be interested in this, but Nelson isn't bringing anyone on board who might disagree with her opinions at the start of the text.

"Sometimes, when I'm teaching, when I interject a comment without anyone calling on me, without caring that I just spoke a moment before, or when I interrupt someone to redirect the conversation away from an eddy I personally find fruitless, I feel high on the knowledge that I can talk as much as I want to, as quickly as I want to, in any direction that I want to, without anyone overtly rolling her eyes at me or suggesting I go to speech therapy. I'm not saying this is good pedagogy. I am saying that its pleasures are deep."

Just read that.

They say you shouldn't confine a dolphin in concrete tanks because the endless sound of their own sonar bouncing back at them eventually drives them mad. That's the best metaphor for how reading this book felt. Inward-looking, self-obsessed writing. You're meant to talk at length about yourself in an autobiography, but this is unengaging and self-indulgent.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Wiggy
  • Wiggy
  • 02-18-17

Not for Razzle fans.

Imteresting exploration of contemporary feminist issues influenced by the post structuralist work of Judith Butler through the lens of the life of a lesbian mother.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for M
  • M
  • 12-01-16

Tedious self - regarding and dull

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A different story. Less plodding performance. Bought on the back of 5 sar reviews in the Irish Tmes newspaper. - very disappointed.

What could Maggie Nelson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Anything - humourless and po faced, completely without drama. Dreadful.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Flat bland delivery. But with those words, it would be hard to do better.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Argonauts?

Take it back and start again. It was people with no real problems navel gazing. Who cares what your sexuality is ? Get over it, be glad you found love. The book made men looks like aliens - I'm a woman btw. Absolutely teenage in its internal referencing . Shocking really for an adult.

Any additional comments?

Widen your interests author. Try a joke or an elegant phrase. Stop reading Hemingway, way too much sequential obviousness"....we did this and then we did that. ...

2 people found this helpful