I interviewed Maggie Nelson for VICE about THE ARGONAUTS! I loved her book so much. An outtake from the interview:
Q: You’ve mentioned using Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes as a ghost text. In the Barthes, he talks about the fragment having music as its ideal, and he suggests a comparison between organizing these fragments and putting together a song cycle. Is that also how you thought about ordering The Argonauts? Or how you did think about it? It feels exquisitely organized, and yet I can’t quite tell how.
Nelson: It was a weird task, because whenever you have a loose chronology as an organizing principle—the book goes from roughly 2007 to 2013—that’s one current. But another current has stories about my baby as an infant that come in the first few pages, before I’ve become pregnant in the other current, etc. So there’s the intellectual narrative and the chronological narrative. The difficulty is in interweaving those streams so that the reader is not bothered, so there’s no undue bewilderment, so you can focus on the anecdote or the concept at hand. But, at the same time, you can move through your chronology pretty wantonly. It’s like the Rubik’s Cube: you move one thing and then you’re like, “Oh shit, if I move that here, then I have to move that here.”