Starred Review. A couple's leisurely drive through France finally makes it to the U.S. in this long-overdue translation of Cortázar (1914-84) and Dunlop's (1946-82) wry, wondrous 1983 travelogue. Following two simple rules-"Complete the journey from Paris to Marseille without once leaving the autoroute," and visit each of the 70 rest areas "at the rate of two per day"-the couple stretch a 10-hour highway trip into a month-long expedition, capturing in short, snappy chapters the joy of slowing down and enjoying the scenery. At times poetic, at others sarcastic, and always playful, the authors take turns with the narrative "the way a pianist plays a sonata, the hands united in a single quest." The resulting tale is an infectious love letter to the road, their VW camper van and each other, made more poignant by Dunlop's untimely death (she passed before the book was finished). Despite some sleepless nights and depressing, concrete-slab surroundings, the couple's sunny mood and clever observation will keep readers engaged. Enjoyable, if a bit inconsequential, this jaunt makes a great introduction to the work of Latin American heavyweight Cortázar, known for short stories and experimental novels such as 1967's National Book Award-winning Hopscotch. B&w photos.
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Idols invite respect, admiration, affection, and, of course, great envy. Cortázar inspired all of these feelings as very few writers can, but he inspired, above all, an emotion much rarer: devotion. He was, perhaps without trying, the Argentine who made the whole world love him. —Gabriel García Márquez
Cortázar’s last book is unexpectedly his happiest and most playful, both linguistically and with the vicissitudes of life... Every page reveals that there is no end, because the end is to go farther, to cross all boundaries. Twenty years later Anne McLean restores the joy and liberty of the original to these autonauts. And it seems to me that Cortázar and Dunlop are still there, on their freeway, alive, happy forever inside a motionless time. —Tomás Eloy Martínez
Anyone who doesn’t read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a serious invisible disease, which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who has never tasted peaches. He would quietly become sadder . . . and, probably, little by little, he would lose his hair. —Pablo Neruda
This is a special book, definitely worth reading, one that will alter your view of highways forever. —Chad W. Post
The journey undertaken by Cortázar and his wife and collaborator Carol Dunlop is quixotic in the largest sense. At one level, it is an adventure stood on its absurd head. At another, it is something graver—a mask of comedy concealing the enigma of an archaic smile. —Richard Eder, The Los Angeles Times Book Review