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Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle Award winner, Criticism, 2015.    

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.

Featured Article: The Best Trans and Nonbinary Listens


As our society becomes more inclusive, some of our most underrepresented communities are getting a much-needed opportunity to tell their stories. For this list, we’ve come up with some of the best trans and nonbinary listens, across all genres and age categories. And because we know that authenticity is important to listeners, our selections are almost exclusively written by queer, trans, and nonbinary authors.

Editor's Pick

A game-changer in audio
"Remember how much of a game-changer this title was when it came out? This was that title everyone was talking about—and rightfully so. It’s inventive, intelligent, and beautiful. And made all the better by Maggie Nelson’s narration."
Aaron S., Audible Editor

What listeners say about The Argonauts

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

I couldn't finish this book!

I couldn't finish this book. I only gave it 2 stars because I like that the author tackled such a timely take on the new idea of family.
I *may* have enjoyed it more if I hadn't listened to it. It was narrated by the author, and her monotone reading was off-putting. She's writing/reading about her family and there was absolutely NO feeling. However, I also did not love her writing style. She quotes other authors, A LOT. So much so, that it's hard to keep up with the thread of what she was originally talking about. It felt many times like she was reveling in her own literary knowledge.

14 people found this helpful

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Not for me

I have heard great things about this book, and I gave it a solid chance, but it was 100% not for me.

It was exceedingly depressing. It tells the story of the narrator and her significant other, but the story is just a litany of the ways society fails the couple because of prejudice. I didn't care about the main characters. It sucks that people are unpleasant to them, but I didn't want to read an unremittingly negative litany of all the terrible things society does to them with no way out and no way through. The author's life must just be completely awful with no silver lining and no good experiences ever. I can't even understand why the couple stays together. Nelson in the book felt like the inspiration for Debbie Downer or Eeyore.

The narration emphasized this feeling with a plodding, monotone. I really tried to appreciate the book. I tried listening to it on at least 5 separate occasions, trying out the possibility that I was in the wrong mood or frame of mind. I even increased the narration speed--first to 1.25 and then to 1.5. I thought I could plod through it--it's fairly short.
Nothing helped. I gave it a real chance and I can confidently say that I heartily disliked it.

9 people found this helpful

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Wonderful writing

While Maggie Nelson was not my favorite narrator, the writing was captivating. The author offers such a mesmerizing take on all aspects of love and being human. I learned so much from such a short book.

8 people found this helpful

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A relaxing meditation on identity, gender and art

A friend close to the author told me numerous times to read this book. Because I was in school, because I had no time to read, because I was busy raising hell, I put it off. After getting a punishing job that has left me no time for reading I decided to take his advice and buy the audiobook for my long LA commutes. I finally understood the parallels he saw and the radical voice of Maggie I feel is a commonality. I should have read the book but I would have missed out on the author's soothing voice. I would have missed the slight intonation she gave to certain subjects or the correct pronunciation of the names of theorists I had never known how to properly pronounce. This is a beautiful, meditative and at times painfully personal story. What a gift that Harry and Maggie allowed the world in. The ideas, the stories and her voice will stay with me for a very long time. Well done.

28 people found this helpful

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A lot of overthinking

I listened to this book because my daughter loves it and I wanted to see why. As a mother of three Who never questioned her gender, I found it a bit exhausting. I had children because I loved babies and wanted to be a mother, and it was the most fulfilling, joyful experience of my life. I nursed them without any thought of sexual feelings and while it was difficult, I did it because they enjoyed it and nutritionally it was best for them. I just think it must be exhausting for people like the author to overthink every basic thing in life. I also don’t know why she included that vile introduction to the book - I consider myself liberal and open minded, I am fine with people of all genders and identities and I understand how hard it must be for transgender people in this day and age. There were definitely some good points to the book and I’m Happy that the author seems to have found happiness in her life.

6 people found this helpful

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Lovely.

Crass in a way that is so honest and well-written that it is not offensive.

6 people found this helpful

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So pretentious...

Some writers wear their erudition lightly. This one wears it like like a latex bondage suit.

5 people found this helpful

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Nope. Not For Me

At times, this is interesting and intelligent, and it made me think. Despite that, I didn’t really enjoy it, because there are other times when it’s tedious and flaky. It lost me at the lengthy section on motherhood. I was fading a bit before that, but I came back around for the part that talks about writing letters.

Part of the problem may be that I didn’t realize it was a memoir, and that’s a genre I’m not necessarily drawn to. There are some memoirs that I have read with rapt fascination, but there are others that are just messy and narcissistic in a way that makes me want to roll my eyes. This falls somewhere in between for me.

She’s too busy gliding across the surface, portraying a sense of chaos that is life, that she never digs deep enough on the things that interest me most. She just flits away again. Then she digs deep on other things that are boring and just her spilling out her inner-monologue which isn’t nearly as interesting as her thoughtful arguments and suggestions. But I can tell she thinks it is interesting which is a bit off-putting.

It’s very hard to describe this story, and I think it’s clear that I’m struggling to review it. I don’t hate it, but I also don’t like it. I find it fascinating but also annoying. There’s some insights here to make you think but other sections that make you feel like your brain has rotted and will fall out of your head.

Overall, I think I was both bored and impatient with this story. I don’t exactly recommend it, because that would be like recommending a myriad of things that may actually have some benefit for me but that I don’t exactly enjoy, such as visiting the dentist for a filling or yoga (kmn).

4 people found this helpful

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Mixed Feelings. Strange Book

I found this book frustratingly elusive and lacking linear organization, although there were some interesting points in her stream of thought and ongoing reflections. The narration was mixed as well. Nelson has a beautiful, clear voice, but her reading is methodical and distant. I would not particularly recommend this book because it's too obtuse, even for my quirky taste.

9 people found this helpful

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Intelligent Stream of Thought on Gender &Sexuality

Would you consider the audio edition of The Argonauts to be better than the print version?

If I could go back, I would definitely rather read the print version than listen to the audiobook. Maggie Nelson has a very eloquent and intelligent way of speaking/writing, and so I feel I would've better understood her story and what she was trying to say if I were able to visually re-read and analyze certain passages. She used a handful of words that I was not familiar with when listening to this while driving for lengthy periods of time, and so I was unable to look up the definitions of those particular words in the moment. Another issue with listening to this book instead of reading it is that Nelson uses a lot of quotations from other writers, theorists, and philosophers and this sometimes makes the performance a little choppy because of the author having to verbally say "quote... unquote" around every quotation.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the mixture of styles. Nelson masterfully intertwined memoir story telling with intellectual/academic discussions of gender, sexuality, and relationship. This is definitely not your average story or novel, it is very unique and so it really stands above and beyond any other book for me.

Have you listened to any of Maggie Nelson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not, but I think her narration of this novel was fantastic. I imagine some may think she had a lack of animation to her voice, but I loved her straight forward way of reading. For me it made the humour of certain passages really stand out, as well as letting the words speak for themselves.

If you could give The Argonauts a new subtitle, what would it be?

The Argonauts: Falling forever, falling to pieces

Any additional comments?

Although I loved this book, I do wish it would have been divided into a couple more chapters. I also wish the audiobook would have verbally indicated when chapters were beginning

14 people found this helpful