ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

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The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

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, offers a firsthand account 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 care-taking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.


Publisher Information

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (May 5, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555977078



NelsonPoet, scholar, and nonfiction writer Maggie Nelson earned a PhD in English literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her work is often described as genre crossing or hybrid; she has noted her interest in poet Eileen Myles’s idea of “vernacular scholarship,” adding, “I need to talk back, or talk with, theorists and philosophers in ordinary language, to dramatize how much their ideas matter to me in my everyday life.” Nelson’s book Bluets (2009) is perhaps her most well-known work mix of scholarship and poetry. Her other collections of poetry include Something Bright, Then Holes(2007), Jane: A Murder (2005), The Latest Winter (2003), and Shiner (2001), which was a finalist for a Norma Farber First Book Award. She is the author of an account of sexual violence and the media, The Red Parts: A Memoir (2007), and a critical work on the New York School poets, Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (2007), which won a Susanne M. Glassock Award for Interdisciplinary Scholarship. Her critical study of aesthetics and cruelty, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning (2011), was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Letter to a Future Lover by Ander Monson

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Letter to a Future Lover by Ander Monson

Readers of physical books leave traces: marginalia, slips of paper, fingerprints, highlighting, inscriptions. All books have histories, and libraries are not just collections of books and databases, but a medium of long-distance communication with other writers and readers.

Letter to a Future Lover collects several dozen brief pieces written in response to library ephemera—with “library” defined broadly, ranging from university institutions to friends’ shelves, from a seed library to a KGB prison library—and addressed to readers past, present, and future.

Through these witty, idiosyncratic essays, Ander Monson reflects on the human need to catalog, preserve, and annotate; the private and public pleasures of reading; the nature of libraries; and how the self can be formed through reading and writing.



“Ander Monson brings a scavenger’s eye and romantic spirit to these funny, poignant pieces of history public and personal.”—The Barnes and Noble Review  
“Ander Monson loves the world with such powerful desperation—even/especially the awful parts—and he loves, maybe even more, all our failed attempts at representation. Being inside his mind for a few hours, being in such close quarters with all that love, is perhaps the greatest pleasure of reading Letter to a Future Lover, but it is not, by a long shot, the only one.”—Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
“Amidst much tedious hand-wringing regarding the future of the book, Ander Monson not only shows us the way forward but chronicles codex’s codes, singing an ode to book qua book, to marginalia and to the margins. A physically beautiful and intellectually thrilling work.”—David Shields

Publisher Information

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (February 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555977061



MonsonAnder Monson edits the magazine DIAGRAM and the New Michigan Press. He is the author of Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir (Graywolf Press, 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism; The Available World (Sarabande, 2010); Neck Deep and Other Predicaments: Essays (Graywolf Press, February 2007); Other Electricities (a sort-of novel, Sarabande Books, 2005); and Vacationland (poems, Tupelo Press, 2005). He lives in Tucson and teaches at the University of Arizona.

Photo credit: Cybele Knowles

ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Citizen by Claudia Rankine

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Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.



“[Citizen] is an especially vital book for this moment in time. . . . The book explores the kinds of injustice that thrive when the illusion of justice is perfected, and the emotional costs for the artist who cries foul. . . . The realization at the end of this book sits heavily upon the heart: ‘This is how you are a citizen,’ Rankine writes. ‘Come on. Let it go. Move on.’ As Rankine’s brilliant, disabusing work, always aware of its ironies, reminds us, ‘moving on’ is not synonymous with ‘leaving behind.'”—The New Yorker
“So groundbreaking is Rankine’s work that it’s almost impossible to describe; suffice it to say that this is a poem that reads like an essay (or the other way around) — a piece of writing that invents a new form for itself, incorporating pictures, slogans, social commentary and the most piercing and affecting revelations to evoke the intersection of inner and outer life.”—Los Angeles Times
Citizen: An American Lyric presents a radical portrait of our ‘post-racial’ society.”—Vanity Fair

Publisher Information

Graywolf Press
ISBN: 978-1-55597-690-3
Pages: 60
Pub Date: October 7, 2014

RankineClaudia Rankine was born in Jamaica in 1963. She earned her B.A. in English from Williams College and her M.F.A. in poetry from Columbia University.She is the author of four collections of poetry, including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf, 2004); PLOT (2001); The End of the Alphabet (1998); and Nothing in Nature is Private (1995), which received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize.Rankine has edited numerous anthologies including American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (Wesleyan, 2002) and American Poets in the Twenty-First Century: The New Poetics (2007). Her plays include “Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue”, commissioned by the Foundry Theatre and Existing Conditions, co-authored with Casey Llewellyn. She has also produced a number of videos in collaboration with John Lucas, including “Situation One.”

A recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poetry, the National Endowments for the Arts, and the Lannan Foundation, she is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College.

Photo credit: John Lucas