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Autonauts of the Cosmoroute is a love story, a travelogue, a collection of stories and snapshots, both visual and verbal, irreverent and brilliant. In May of ‘82, Julio Cortázar, literary explorer of the highest order, set out with Carol Dunlop aboard their VW camper van (a.k.a. Fafner) to explore the uncharted territory of the Paris-Marseilles freeway. It was a route they’d driven before, usually in about ten hours. This time, they loaded up with supplies—food, water, wine, typewriters, cameras—and prepared for an arduous voyage of thirty-three days without leaving the autoroute, at a rate of two rest stops per day. Along the way they would uncover the hidden side of the freeway and take the notion of literature from a serious game to a logical, surreal extreme.
Hear Autonauts being discussed on NPR's All Things Considered
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
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."
This is a special book, definitely worth reading, one that will alter your view of highways forever."
—Chad W. Post
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