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Autonauts of the Cosmoroute

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  966 ratings  ·  117 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published November 26th 2007 by Archipelago (first published 1983)
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This is another book that makes me want to go back through and knock down all my five-star ratings, so it can be in a class all its own. Honestly and truly one of the most astonishingly beautiful things I've ever read.

Autonauts of the Cosmoroute is a memoir of sorts. Cortázar (the most devastatingly brilliant author of modern times, if you didn't know) and his wife Carol decide to spend thirty-odd days living on the highway connecting Paris to Marseille (for a local reference, it seems rather
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it
When I was about 14, or between that age and 17, I used to carry around a green pocket folder filled with railway maps of the United States. Also included in my green folder were essays, lists, and advice by wannabe-Beat-poet types (God help them) on the subject of train-hopping. This was my obsession. I had every intent to head out to the train yard in central Austin one day with a knapsack full of the essentials -- a warm jacket, a sewing kit, some beef jerky, a couple of dollars -- and swing ...more
David Katzman
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to David by: Oriana
What a wonderful book. Part essay, part travelogue with a smattering of fiction, it's an indescribable blend of humor, sadness, quirk and love. Author Julio Cortázar cooked up a plan with his second wife Carol Dunlop to drive from Paris to Marseilles in their VW bus nicknamed Fafner, the dragon. The catch is, they stopped at every single rest-stop along the way at the count of two per day, sleeping over night at the second one. This book chronicles their thoughts and notes throughout the ...more
This delightful account of a modern day Don Quioxite and his Dulcinea counts on the 'patient,gentle reader' to rise to the challenge of discovery. With route and itinery clearly defined,and strict rules establishing protocol,this absurd adventure nevertheless transcends any attempt at categorization. The authors come the closest when they confess (P175) "It's true that this trip is an unending fiesta of life" and the sense of celebration is strong throughout.

One thing that surprised and
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
La Osita and el Lobo, armed with the caps of mushrooms and cuneiforms forming nightvisions by sidetracked autobahns, carrying only the sin of excess imagination, travel en route of stopped time, which is a form of brussel sprouts, as by re-routing scientific observations about skylarks at rest while gliding in rest areas, they also find a way of being explorers like ancient ships do, clear to the back of the fog, or simply, with Fafner, their VW, sounding out the silences between trucks, like ...more
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
It's a radical idea, really, that a freeway, a kind of road whose very existence is about getting from one place to another as fast as possible, might in fact prove worthy as a destination in and of itself.

In this lovely, charming and wonderful book, the authors decide to to make the 800 km of autoroute between Paris and Marseilles their home for one month. Their goal is to explore every rest stop along its path at the rate of two per day, camping out in their VW van and the occasional hotel,
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
More than a travelogue, this 'example of how the imagination can truly take power if we forget about routines' is a delightful invitation to encounter the world with renewed curiosity; to engage fully the imagination, the spirit and the body in celebrating the boon of living rapturously. A drawn out ode between el Lobo (Cortázar, the wolf) and la Osita (Dunlop, little bear), the collage of roadside minutiae offers a rare glimpse at the tender affection and deep respect two people hold for one ...more
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
a classic of travel lit. with a twist. going from paris to Marseilles on the "freeway" (a turnpike in usa, pay as you go) going no more than 2 rest stops a day, and must spend night at 2nd, for good or bad. so julio and wife carol dunlop co-write about "being away from it all", slowing down and noticing things, nature, people. 1 interesting thing to me was the distinct lack of freaks. if one traveled usa freeways there would be serial killers, hitchhikers, drug runners, mean police, and ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It is not possible that you have read anything else like this book and unless you are cold-hearted, miserable and vicious, it is likely that you will embrace it, wish it to continue indefinitely and then admire its moving and unexpected conclusion.

Two poetic and imaginative people, very much in love with one another, document a journey from Paris to Marseille that moves through two highway rest stops per day. The travelogue, the photographs, and the ruminations are all made to glow by the
Mesut Bostancı
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I finally finished this last night reading it aloud, like I have slowly over the course of the last few years to my wife –we were trying to really savor it – and she woke up startled to see me in tears (she usually falls asleep as I read it). This was the most romantic book I've ever read. It's also an ethics for living, one that I am reminded of every single time my wife and I travel someplace. An ethics of living life "with great seriousness, like a squirrel, I mean without looking for ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fake-out-spys
Osita (Carol Dunlop) and El Lobo (Julio Cortazar) document their travel experiment in France in the early 80's. Two years in the making, they finally embark on a road trip that is just that...a road trip...they have one rule: do not leave the autoroute. They parse out the rest areas between Paris and Marseilles, and plan to stay in two each day while on their 33 day journey. They travel in the heart and belly of the faithful Fafner, mediveal dragon-errant (or to an outside viewer, an red VW bus, ...more
Nov 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: us, them, him, her
Autonauts of the Cosmoroute is awfully heavy for a light read (consisting of nearly four hundred pages of notes taken on the dozens of rest stops between Paris and Marseille) but is ultimately a successful real-time travelogue, comparable in that respect to Wim Wenders' interminable and marvelous Kings of the Road.

Dunlop and Cortazar lived slow and died young. The publishers of this edition make a point of informing the reader that both authors would pass within two years of their voyage along
Rod Funk
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: travelers of mind and space
Recommended to Rod by: Harper's magazine
This is a very unconventional, but great book. Julio Cortazar and his wife Carol Dunlop decide to take the Autoroute (like an American Interstate Highway) from Paris to Marseilles in their red microbus, Fafner. The wrinkle is that they will make the trip over two months never leaving the highway except to stop at 2 rest stops per day. Using a combination of travelogue, photographs, diagrams, and imaginary correspondence between a mother and her soldier boy, they create an intimate portrait of ...more
Swaraj Dalmia
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favouites
Cortazar is one of my most favourite authors and i think this is his best work. For those of you who haven't read him at all, i'd suggest you read his other books before making your way to this one. This book is the culmination of a quirky road trip that is made mythical by the sheer imagination of Julio and his wife Carol. The sketches and pictures add an aspect of realism, contrasted with which, his words take on unparalleled mystery.

If you want to know about the sorts of fantasies that run
Dec 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: cortazar fans
read my first review in the chronicle-

this book is good, but if you haven't read cortazar before don't start with this one. check out cronopios y famas if you like associative vignettes, or hopscotch if you like a hearty beatnik novel. if you do read this one, give me a call afterwards and i'll tell you the deep dark secret that cortazar is keeping from you.
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This shows that an amusingly lame but eccentric idea for a road trip can be seriously awesome when the adventurers are wild and crazy in all the right charming ways, and have many friends that encourage them to live their dreams.
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book made me cry on the bus.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why oh why have I not read this before? Shame on me. This is just immense - a glorious Quixotic adventure, a love story, a paean of praise for slowing down and looking at life completely differently, a celebration of language, of words and of friendship.

Cortazar, I have to admit, is fairly new to me, but already his style and stories have blown me away. This, an account of a 33-day journey made by him and his wife Carol Dunlop from Paris to Marseilles, should be given to everyone you know, to
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know, it had some unnecessary chapters, but it was a weird mix of funny and bittersweet, knowing he had to end his book alone because his wife died before that. But it's a very entertaining book for the most part, which highlighted Cortázar's taste for unusual language to make us wonder about everyday things, or even jump in a one month long trip from Paris to Marsella where a tiny female bear and a wolf have insane amounts of coffee and only have a dragon and the old fears of marines ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
A bizarre book about a month-long trip never leaving the freeway. There are some brilliant passages, but a lot of wandering around in inanity.
Rob Lloyd
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly delightful voyage through the cosmoroute.
Jan 16, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: vakantie
Mar 31, 2014 added it
Shelves: leesclub
Coping with sorrow and death constitutes an important part of being human. Julio Cortazar and his partner Carol Dunlop propose a unique way of enjoying their existence and each other's company. It is not stated in so many words, and the book only hints at 'dark periods', but the reader is led to understand that they have both fought off a serious illness, and they want to highlight and celebrate the richness of their earthly existence (and ours in passing).

Their strategy starts with an absurd
Jun 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: travelers
Recommended to P. by: The Believer
Shelves: nonfic
Because the tone of this narrative is determinedly lighthearted, its substance sneaks up on the reader. (or, this reader). Of course, the seriousness of the journey is laid out in the first chapters but always addressed with a sense of play - after all, Julio and Carol address each other mostly by their very dear nicknames, La Osita and el Lobo, and drive around in a little red Volkswagen camper van named Fafner and described always as a stalwart dragon. Whatever ails the couple is ...more
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
just perfect
Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alex by: Robert Johanson
The premise of Autonauts of the Cosmoroute is enchanting: man (Cortazar/el Lobo), woman (Dunlop/la Osita), and van (Fafner/Dragon) spend a full month on the Paris-Marseilles autoroute, recording their observations, experiences, and resultant literary flights of fancy on two trusty typewriters.

As the book's subtitle implies, their journey takes them out of time. Perhaps it is this timelessness or the venue itself--at once wholly familiar to the average reader, yet hardly known--that imbues this
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a magical story. An artist couple takes a 33-day trek down the French highway (the cosmoroute) from Paris to Marseilles in their VW camper in the early 80s. It's normally a 10-hour drive. They stop at two rest stops per day and the bulk of the book is about how they entertain themselves in these transitory places for long stretches of time. They explore nearby forests, lounge, read, write on little typewriters, and consume impressive repasts. This couple truly unplugs and learns to ...more
Mar 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Keri by: Elizabeth
This book was suggested to me by a book group member after I returned from my trip to France. I really didn't expect to like it; I'm not a fan of non-fiction and besides, how interesting can a book about rest stops be? Unexpectedly, the descriptions took me right back to France. The authors seemed way out there at times but their descriptions were rich and lively. They seemed to write very much like one another as I could not tell who had authored any particular section until a point of view was ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it
I like Cortazar for his loose grasp on everyday reality (or is it that his minds blown so open that he functions on more than one level?). Wasnt too impressed with his wifes writing; thought it was overly sentimental, although pretty, but I also dont blame her since shes primarily a photographer. As expected, there isnt really a lot of conflict here, and that was a bit boring. On the other hand, as a leisurely read with interesting and fun descriptions, some of which wax poetic and reach great ...more
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nowadays this sort of travel-about-by-a-specific-set-of-perameters malarkey is reasonably big business. This predates a lot of that and tends to avoid most of the more boring trappings of the personal travel memoir.

I only really read it because I find Cortázar's fiction as interesting as I do. It was a while back that I read it now but in essence they travel down a road in France and stop at every rest area on the way, and then write about their experiences. There's a lot of rest areas, so there
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Julio Cortázar, born Julio Florencio Cortázar Descotte, was an Argentine author of novels and short stories. He influenced an entire generation of Latin American writers from Mexico to Argentina, and most of his best-known work was written in France, where he established himself in 1951.