“You pass as a guy; I, as pregnant. Our waiter cheerfully tells us about his family, expresses delight in ours. On the surface, it may have seemed as though your body was becoming more and more “male,” mine, more and more “female.” But that’s not how it felt on the inside. On the inside, we were two human animals undergoing transformations beside each other, bearing each other loose witness. In other words, we were aging.”
Day two of undefined gender/genderless narrator week: “The Argonauts” by Maggie Nelson
I just finished this book and it was unlike anything I have ever read before. A genre-bending memoir and a work of “autotheory”, this book has us thinking about desire, identity and the limitations/possibilities of language and love.
Here is the Goodreads plot synopsis:
“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, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.”
This novel is a great example of our theme this week as it explores gender roles, trans identity and the roles our gender plays in our lives and relationships. I love the way this doesn’t read like a typical novel, instead Nelson weaves the theories of Eileen Myles, Judith Butler, Michael Foucault, Susan Sontag and Sedwick (just to name a few) into her prose, enriching the story and exemplifying her own thoughts and theories.
From pregnant bodies to female bodies to transitioning bodies, Nelson touches on them all as our narrator explores child rearing, marriage and sexulaity.
This is my first experience with Maggie Nelson. “Bluets” has been on my TBR list for ages, but after finishing this book, I’m definitely moving Nelson to the top of my reading list. ✨
Have you read “The Argonauts?”