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Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is a love story, but it is also an extended meditation on gender and family and identity: in other words, on what belonging means. Such themes lead the author in some unanticipated directions—not to conclusions, necessarily, but, more important, to questions, to a kind of intellectual and emotional openness. This is what we have come to expect from Nelson, whose work eschews the easy answer, or even the premise of an answer at all. When applied to her private life—the book involves her relationship with Harry Dodge, a gender-fluid artist, and the family they make—the stakes go up exponentially, provoking an exquisite tension between what Nelson thinks and wants, which is the most universal tension we can know.

Graywolf Press
Graywolf Press