Thursday, February 14, 2008

Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop: Autonauts of the Cosmoroute

Jason Weiss reviews Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop's Autonauts of the Cosmoroute.
Autonauts of the Cosmoroute: A Timeless Voyage from Paris to Marseille—the last book published in Cortázar’s lifetime, it appeared in Spanish in 1983 and is now available in a fluid and felicitous English translation by Anne McLean—figures among his most playful works, its tone recalling, in a lighter vein, travelers’ tales from the age of discovery. Simultaneously, it offers another take on the collage aesthetic that underlies his novels and kaleidoscopic multigenre books, such as Around the Day in Eighty Worlds (1967). After an extended preamble, which introduces the expedition’s protagonists, genesis, and preparations, the record itself comprises a daily log, photos, hand-drawn maps of the rest areas, and the authors’ many commentaries. In these, Cortázar and Dunlop dwell on physical surroundings, metaphysical speculations, cultural reflections, and encounters with truckers, highway workers, and other travelers, as well as observations of each other’s habits; they remark, too, on how their enchanted state has changed them, even sharpening the details in their dreams.
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