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Autonauts of the Cosmoroute Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 26, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago (November 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979333008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979333002
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
There are explorations that take us to new worlds, and the explorers come back ready to tell us of all the strange people and artifacts they saw. There is also the exploration of a familiar world in a new way, and that this can be just as enlightening, and entertaining, is the message of _Autonauts of the Cosmoroute_ (Archipelago Books) by husband and wife Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop. Cortázar was a fiction writer and Dunlop a writer, translator, and photographer, and they had planned for years to get away from the demons of Paris. The demons included various ills of modern life, like the telephone and even cutlery: "When we asked of the knives only that they cut a peach or the cheese, they arranged to bite us and, while we did acrobatics to avoid their teeth, their friends the forks came from below to jab us." It was not the South Seas that drew them away, or the Amazon, but a stretch of freeway they had traveled many times before, but no one had traveled it the way they were going to. The 465-mile Autoroute du Sud gets drivers from Paris to Marseilles in just a few hours, but they would make an expedition of it, staying on the autoroute while they stopped at every rest area along it, at the rate of two rest stops a day, a trip that would take just over a month, starting in May 1982. They wrote this book about it shortly thereafter, and it has just now been translated into English by Anne McLean. I can't say anything about the fidelity of the translation, but the words are full of whimsy and magic, and they fit the theme perfectly.

Cortázar and Dunlop may have had a light and whimsical view of the outing, but they took it very seriously, which simply increases the sense of fun they report here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The "autonauts" are Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar and his third wife Carol Dunlop. In May 1982, they embark on an expedition down the L'Autoroute du Sud, the freeway from Paris to Marseilles. Most drivers manage that trip in a day. But not "el Lobo" and "la Osita" (their pet names for one another). The trip takes them over thirty days - because, by design, they visit each and every rest area along the way, staying the night at every second rest area (except when forced by exigencies to make small exceptions to that rigid routine). They therefore drive only about twenty minutes per day and they complete the Paris-Marseille journey without ever leaving the freeway. Their vehicle is a red Volkswagen Combi Van, which they dub "Fafner" ("the Dragon"). Fafner carries a fridge and provisions and libations, their typewriters and lawn chairs, as well as a bed where they can sleep and make love.

AUTONAUTS OF THE COSMOROUTE is their joint documentation of their madcap expedition. It consists largely of reports on what they discovered at the various rest stops along the Autoroute, as well as numerous flights of fancy conjured up during their trip. There also are brief logs for each day of the expedition; black-and-white photographs, most of which were taken by Carol and almost all of which, at least as reproduced in this edition, are sadly blurry; and charming drawings of the rest area layouts ("ex post facto cartography") supplied by Carol's fourteen-year-old son based on the autonauts' reports and photographs.

A propos of a work by Julio Cortázar, AUTONAUTS OF THE COSMOROUTE is slightly zany, sly and witty, and utterly sui generis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fairlee E. Winfield VINE VOICE on July 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantasy. A dream expedition. All that, but a still a fresh look at the ordinary. The autoroute from Paris to Marseille that is never seen--just traveled. It's stimulating to inspect the details. And the relationship between El Lobo and La Osita is endearing.

For me though, the whole thing was simply a little too "cute." So cute that the humor seemed tiresome. Like a child telling the story of a movie over and over with details that make you want them to get on with it. Sorry, despite his fame, I've never been a Cortazar fan.
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By PK on July 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This adventure log, as full of the joy of travel as Kerouac's On the Road yet written with the air of a Victorian voyager's journal, will charm any reader who possesses even the merest semblance of a sense of wonder. It's a complete delight and a perfect reminder that travel is just as much about the process of the journey itself as what you find at your destination. Bring this on any road trip!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Levitsky on June 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Christian Hawkey and I garnered the recuperative strategy of "expedition," a central tenet of "The Office of Recuperative Strategies," on this beautiful book. See more at OORS.NET.
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