The Long Way Home

The Road to Carol Dunlop

Jeff and  I will be driving soon to Florida to visit family for the holiday break, which will have its moments of fun, amazement, frustration and daily life. Our car will be our house on wheels (which I’ve always wanted), complete with Christmas tree on the dashboard.

In the 1982 travel book Autonauts of the Cosmoroute, writer Julio Cortazar and his wife, photographer Carol Dunlop, vowed to make stops at each of the 70 rest areas along the French autoroute from Paris to Marseilles. It’s the ultimate adventure in experimental travel – how can a traveling couple make this ordinary, busy highway road a lot more like the roads less traveled?

The book is peppered with logs of camping provisions and daily menus, as well as Dunlop’s snapshot-like photography. I had never heard of her work until I found Autonauts in the Archipelago Books catalog.  And while most of the book is light-hearted and whimsical, the ending is almost too sad to bear when you know that Cortazar had to finish the book alone because Carol died before she saw it to completion at the age of 36.

Her life and death are a mystery to me, as well as her work. She was born in Boston, but became a Canadian citizen during the Vietnam war. She met Cortazar in 1977, then moved with him to France. I  found a blog about her written a few years ago, but it’s in Spanish, which I don’t speak. I can only read her life through these few photographs of the last journey of her life.


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They say that Carol Dunlop died of AIDS. Not sure if it’s true, but a close friend of Cortazar and Dunlop said that she believed Cortazar died of AIDS. They did die close together from unknown viruses. She is burried with Cortazar in Paris.


Comment by Jerry

HI Jerry,

Thanks so much for the information – that’s terribly sad. I had written this post a few years back, and I still get a lot of traffic to my site from searches for Carol Dunlop.


Comment by Lisa

your adventure can be called “monster mobile”


Comment by bill

I wish we had that VW monster mobile, like in the picture. Wouldn’t that be awesome?


Comment by Lisa

i think there’s one in skunk hallow.


Comment by bill

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