cover image Autonauts of the Cosmoroute

Autonauts of the Cosmoroute

Carol Dunlop, Julio Cortazar. Archipelago Books, $20 (354pp) ISBN 978-0-9793330-0-2

A couple's leisurely drive through France finally makes it to the U.S. in this long-overdue translation of Cortazar (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 Cortazar, known for short stories and experimental novels such as 1967's National Book Award-winning Hopscotch. B&w photos.