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Winner, 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism
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 centre is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes the author’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 for this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.
Maggie Nelson is a poet, a critic, and the author of several nonfiction books, including The Red Parts, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, and Jane: A Murder. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and lives in Los Angeles, California.
‘A superb exploration of the risk and the excitement of change…An exceptional portrait both of a romantic partnership and of the collaboration between Nelson’s mind and heart.’ New Yorker
‘Maggie Nelson slays entrenched notions of gender, marriage and sexuality with lyricism, intellectual brass and soul-ringing honesty.’ Vanity Fair
‘A magnificent achievement of thought, care and art.’ Los Angeles Times
‘Nelson’s writing is fluid—to read her story is to drift dreamily among her thoughts…She masterfully analyzes the way we talk about sex and gender.’ Huffington Post
‘One of the most intelligent, generous and moving books of the year.’ STARRED review Publishers Weekly
‘A book that will challenge readers as much as the author has challenged herself.’ STARRED review Kirkus Reviews
‘So much writing about motherhood makes the world seem smaller after the child arrives, more circumscribed, as if in tacit fealty to the larger cultural assumptions about moms and domesticity; Nelson’s book does the opposite.’ New York Times Book Review
‘A thought-provoking and fascinating read.’ Otago Daily Times
‘A wonderful genre-disregarding beast…Nelson has created a work that lets the reader into the intimate world of her love partnership and family, as well as engaging the intellect.’ Readings
‘I thought about copying down whole passages...Nelson’s writing about gender is pretty wonderful. The reflexivity and circularity of her work resists over-simplifications.’ Lifted Brow
‘A song of praise for everyday, ordinary suburban life and simple pleasures.’ Herald Sun
‘An extraordinary record of a life that could only have been written in the early 21st century…[Nelson] is thoughtful, provoking and concise.
Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color . . .
A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of vision and love, as refracted through the color blue. With Bluets, Maggie Nelson has entered the pantheon of brilliant lyric essayists.
Maggie Nelson is the author of numerous books of poetry and nonfiction, including Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, 2007) and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, 2007). She lives in Los Angeles and teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.
Selected as a Book of the Year 2017 in the Guardian
'Maggie Nelson’s short, singular books feel pretty light in the hand... But in the head and the heart, they seem unfathomably vast, their cleverness and odd beauty lingering on' Observer
In 1969, Jane Mixer, a first-year law student at the University of Michigan, posted a note on a student noticeboard to share a lift back to her hometown of Muskegon for spring break. She never made it: she was brutally murdered, her body found a few miles from campus the following day.
The Red Parts is Maggie Nelson’s singular account of her aunt Jane’s death, and the trial that took place some 35 years afterward. Officially unsolved for decades, the case was reopened in 2004 after a DNA match identified a new suspect, who would soon be arrested and tried. In 2005, Nelson found herself attending the trial, and reflecting with fresh urgency on our relentless obsession with violence, particularly against women.
Resurrecting her interior world during the trial – in all its horror, grief, obsession, recklessness, scepticism and downright confusion – Maggie Nelson has produced a work of profound integrity and, in its subtle indeterminacy, deadly moral precision.
*A GUARDIAN 'BOOKS OF 2021' PICK*
'One of the most electrifying writers at work in America today, among the sharpest and most supple thinkers of her generation' - Olivia Laing
So often deployed as a jingoistic, even menacing rallying cry, or limited by a focus on passing moments of liberation, the rhetoric of freedom both rouses and repels. Does it remain key to our autonomy, justice, and well-being, or is freedom's long star turn coming to a close? Does a continued obsession with the term enliven and emancipate, or reflect a deepening nihilism (or both)? On Freedom examines such questions by tracing the concept's complexities in four distinct realms: art, sex, drugs, and climate.
Drawing on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life, Nelson explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. Her abiding interest lies in ongoing "practices of freedom" by which we negotiate our interrelation with-indeed, our inseparability from-others, with all the care and constraint that relation entails, while accepting difference and conflict as integral to our communion.
For Nelson, thinking publicly through the knots in our culture-from recent art world debates to the turbulent legacies of sexual liberation, from the painful paradoxes of addiction to the lure of despair in the face of the climate crisis-is itself a practice of freedom, a means of forging fortitude, courage, and company. On Freedom is an invigorating, essential book for challenging times.
À travers une série de collages de poèmes, sources documentaires, fragments du journal intime de sa tante, brèves dans des journaux et enquête sur les traces de la disparue, Maggie Nelson explore la nature de ce fait divers, le dernier en date d’une macabre série d’assassinats perpétrés dans la région. Dans cette grande œuvre écrite sous forme de long poème, l’autrice éclaire l’ombre portée sur son passé, et interroge ces fantômes qui peuplent nos vies et que l’on tait. Elle crée une forme hybride et poétique qui impose une réalité brutale au silence pesant, la juge, la confronte et la fait plier par l’écriture. L’ouvrage présent réunit deux livres de Maggie Nelson dans un volume tête-bêche. Jane, un meurtre, enquête poétique sur la disparue. Une partie rouge, au verso, démarre à l’instant où la police annonce l’arrestation d’un suspect et la tenue d’un procès.
Cet ensemble que l’on pourrait nommer “Le livre de Jane” est un document littéraire unique sur un féminicide et sur la violence à l’œuvre dans nos sociétés.