Disclaimer: ARC Via Netgalley and Riverdale Avenue Books
So I find it really hard to be negative about anything that expresses a love for the Jason and Argonuats movie by Harryhausen. Just saying.
In fairness, I should note that I am not a huge romance fan. I really am not. But how can you pass up a book that actually acknowledges that the Argonauts weren’t just rowing oars?
Curlovich does a fine job of bring the legend to life.
The story of Jason and his quest for the fleece is told via Acastus, his cousin, and son of the man who stole Jason’s father’s throne. Acastus is not a typical Greek prince, something that no doubt can be traced to dedication to the Muses. His father is not quite right and there is a sense of decay in the kingdom. The arrival of Jason and the quest for the fleece suggests a solution to the problem.
In some respects, the book is a typical romance. There is instant love between Acastus and his partner, there is instant lust as well. Curlovich does an excellent job at showing the love between the men, in particular when it is the true love of equal. This actually makes the use of instant love less annoying because the relationship does develop and not every character is going “oh, does he love I don’t know for sure” like in another book I recently read.
Acastus is a fully rounded character whose conflicts might be too modern in some aspects, but, perhaps because of this, his voice makes it easier for the reader to enter the realm of the story. He isn’t perfect, and at times, he uses too modern a tone – there is a reference to differences in cultural values that does seem to fit an ancient Greek.
The sequence describing the Argonauts quest for the fleece is good and contends the right amount of daring do. The drawback is that too few of the crew stands out. While this is understandable considering the source material, it can also be a little confusing or disheartening as some characters seem to pop up and go away again, making it hard for the reader to become attached to them. At times, too, it does feel like Curlovich is pairing all of them up. This makes Atlanta an oddity because she is the sole women on the ship. While I wish her role had been larger, Curlovich includes her, which is more than many modern retellings do.
Still, that is a very interesting part of the book. While I might not agree with Curlovich’s reading of the Medea story, his use of homosexuality in terms of Greek culture as well as woman’s place in that culture is well thought out. What do the powerless do when they are cut out of most aspects of societal control? It is an interesting theory that Curlovich plays with, and it does make sense.
This is the first male romance book that I have read, and I want to read more Curlovich.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson was the May book from the feminist book club on Goodreads called Our Shared Shelf started by Emma Watson. This book was written in a style that I was completely unfamiliar with and which at first really threw me off. It's written almost as a stream of consciousness where there are broken paragraphs that at first seem as if they have no connection to one another. In fact, the first paragraph is a detailed description of the author engaging in anal sex. I guess she likes to shock the reader and/or pull them immediately into her narrative. (Hint: It worked.) This is the story of the author as she begins a relationship with her gender fluid partner (now spouse) and the navigating of that relationship while deciding to have a child together. She also becomes a stepparent to Harry's son from a prior relationship which is completely new territory in and of itself. Since reading The Argonauts, I have embarked on a campaign of knowledge about Nelson because this book is simply a snapshot of a few years of hers and Harry's lives. At the time that she was experiencing the struggles of trying to get pregnant Harry was undergoing changes as well (I don't want to give this away because it's such a powerful part of the book). Her description of her internalized experience as well as the observations of those around her are unique and frankly thrilling to read. Her writing is brash, dynamic, and surprising. She hits back against stereotypes of what it means to be gendered, queer, and in touch with oneself. In short, it's a powerful book that seeks to wake the slumbering activist in all of us. I highly recommend this one.
Both Wikipedia and Transgender History give a complete history of why it is that June is the LGBT Pride Month. In a nutshell, events were originally put together to commemorate the Stonewall riots but it eventually grew into what is now LGBT Pride Month, or more colloquially known as Gay Pride Month. Personally, I prefer the acronym because it recognize the full scope of people expressing their pride this month as well as the full scope of people involved in the riots.
Admittedly, my blog is focused on gender and not sexual orientation. While that doesn't leave me unaware of events, activists, progress for people or multiple orientations, it does mean that reading focuses on the diverse genders that are available out there. Connected to this post are the books that helped me along on my journey of understanding the LGBT point of view and becoming a better ally than I was before. My journey is far from complete on this subject and I have only recently met the first few people that I knew to be trans in any way, but I feel like these books helped me to not act like a bigoted idiot. I wouldn't have had any idea what to do and probably would have waved off any stress on using the right pronoun for those I have met. I would have been ignorant of the importance and probably hurt or alienated them.
I also happened to notice that most of these books are underrated on Goodreads (Whipping Girl and The Argonauts have more than 3000 ratings each, the rest are under 1000). In fact, five of these books have under 10 ratings. If you happen to be curious about the transgender or non-binary experience check them out. Rate them.
Are you an LGBT ally? What books have helped you understand or support this community?