Sur la route
by Cecilia Woloch

ISBN: 978-1-935835-15-8
Perfect Bound, $18.00
Publication Date: April 2015
5.5 x 8.5 inches, 224 pages

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Sur la route is a novel in postcard-like vignettes — a series of brief, vivid, poetic episodes that trace the path of a disaffected American woman "on the road" in France and western Europe. It's the winter of 1994 and she's fled the blandness of Los Angeles for Paris, carrying with her only a list of the names of friends-of-friends, a couple battered suitcases and a longing to be part of a more sensual, nuanced and mysterious world. She moves breathlessly through that world, the peripatetic rhythm of events mirrored in the restless, lyrical narrative. Along the way, she falls in love with a man, a woman, a city, a way of being in the world and her own life. By turns sexy, intriguing, and passionate, her experiences require her to open her heart as widely as possible, even (and always) at the risk of breaking it.

From Sur la route...


My plane leaves for Paris in less than an hour. I'm not sure my luggage is going to hold up: a roll-aboard with a zipper that sticks; a carry-on heavy with journals and books, its straps already stretched too thin.
I've crammed everything I think I'll need for a month into these two bags.
Mid-November and it's eighty-three degrees in Los Angeles. Mid-morning and the sky's a milky blue tinged with smoggy gold.
The cab drops me off at LAX. I drag my bags through the sliding glass doors into the terminal, flooded with sunlight, already sweating under the coat I've slipped on so that I won't have to carry it.
I've checked the roll-aboard and rushed to the gate before I remember what I forgot: I don't have a way to reach Jack in Paris; we haven't made any plans for how we'll meet one another there. I find a payphone and dial the number of his house in New Mexico, relieved when I hear his voice.
"Bonsoir, Susannah!" he chirps. Though it's bright day outside everywhere — except in Paris, where it's dusk.
"That's evening," I tell Jack. "That means good evening."
"Oh," he says. He's coming to France in two weeks; he'll need to know how to say hello.
"Do you have a number in Paris?" I ask. "How will I get in touch with you there?"
"Call Pierre," and he gives me the number. "Pierre's English is better than Isabelle's. Call him as soon as you get to Paris, and ask him to call Isabelle. Ask him to ask her to call me here. I want to be sure I can stay at her place."
I add Pierre's number to the list of names and numbers in my notebook, a list that's grown in the past few days.
"And how will I find you there?" Jack asks.
"I have no idea," I say.
And then I hear my flight being called — the final call for boarding — so I pick up my carry-on, and run.


And what am I running from? Los Angeles falling away, already, beneath me — forever: too bright, too flat. My life as a stranger everywhere. The way I keep failing and failing at love. My fear of being trapped inside that shining flatness, too. Perhaps what Baudelaire described as l'horreur du domicile.
And what am I running toward that I've only glimpsed but keep longing for? A city with grit on its heels and the smell of tobacco on its breath. A river that glimmers, as if with stars. A world inside the world, just out of reach, more real somehow.
It's 1994; I've just turned 38 years old, an age when a woman in Los Angeles begins to disappear. Okay, I think, disappear. Close my eyes above one city; open them in another city halfway around the world.

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