The Argonauts


I dove into this book not knowing what an argonaut was. I couldn’t help imagining an astronaut in a black comedy set in deep space (Fargo + Astronaut). I must admit that I didn’t even look up the meaning because it’s more fun to not know the word and deduce the meaning from context, right? Right? Just me? Okay.

The Argonauts, written by Maggie Nelson, is a minuscule 143 pages; but this small book packs quite a punch. It documents the life of a queer family, something I haven’t experienced first hand. Reading it felt like exploring a new world. A world where you’re forced to think about things you’d taken for granted as a straight person: your gender, your identity, sex, love.

A day or two after my love pronouncement, now feral with vulnerability, I sent you the passage from Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes in which Barthes describes how the subject who utters the phrase “I love you” is like “the Argonaut renewing his ship during its voyage without changing its name.” Just as the Argo’s parts may be replaced over time but the boat is still called the Argo, whenever the lover utters the phrase “I love you,” its meaning must be renewed by each use, as “the very task of love and of language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections which will be forever new.

The book is filled with passages as this, which make you ponder. The following quote highlights the importance of a mother, which elicited a surprised laugh from me.

You, reader, are alive today, reading this, because someone once adequately policed your mouth exploring.

Have any of us thanked our mothers enough for their successful mouth policing? I know what I’m going to write on my Mother’s Day card.

If you are interested in a witty read about gender, love, family in a queer setting this book’s right up your alley.

Rating: 6.9/ 10



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