Title: The Argonauts
Writer: Maggie Nelson
Publishing House: Graywolf Press
Date of Publication: May 5th 2015
Rating: 5 stars
‘’You’ve punctured my solitude, I told you.’’
I feel as if I’m treading on thin ice with this one, because in all honesty, this is a book that one has to read in order to understand. I feel that Nelson has exposed her soul to us, sharing thoughts and experiences that many of us would find unlikely to confess even to ourselves. How can we, as simple readers who haven’t even experienced 10% of what she has been through, write a text saying ‘’this is good’’ or ‘’this is bad’’? Speaking for myself, I was deeply touched by her writing. Once again, I was convinced of the inadequacy and dogmatism of our ‘’progressive’’ era, once again I understood how severely difficult is for each one of us to break the norms and be different.
‘’I realised that age doesn’t necessarily bring anything with it, just itself. The rest is optional.’’
My first experience with Nelson’s writing was the beautiful Bluets, one of the finest memoirs I’ve ever read. The Argonauts is extremely different. I was very interested in the title she chose. I dare say- without presuming to assume what she had in mind- that the Argonauts is a metaphor for the continuous struggle to go against the current and succeed in what may seem as a Herculean, solitary effort. Whereas Bluets focuses on the melancholy of Love, here she writes primarily about gender identity and fluidity, sexuality and motherhood. I was particularly moved to read about her personal passage to motherhood while her partner was in the middle of a process that I can only describe as a rebirth. She touches in motherhood through the prism of mutual understanding ( or the lack of it) and the issue of infidelity juxtaposed with her father’s death. I loved reading about her teaching experience and interactions with the young (and not so bright) minds.
I will be honest with you, as always, and tell you that there were quite a few moments when I felt uncomfortable reading her confessions and vivid (for lack of a stronger word) descriptions of certain issues that I consider too personal to be shared. But this is exactly why I loved The Argonauts. Even if we can’t really understand because we have never walked in her shoes, her writing oozes confidence and vulnerability. It is raw and immediate and unafraid, But it is not for everyone.
I did prefer Bluets but that’s only because I can’t really relate to the theme of motherhood and its implications. This doesn’t mean anything, though. Maggie Nelson is a writer whose language enters souls and minds bravely and directly.
‘’Leave it to the old politician white guy to call the lady speaker back to her body, so that no one misses the spectacle of that wild oxymoron, the pregnant woman who thinks. Which is really just a pumped-up version of that more general oxymoron, a woman who thinks.’’