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Mile Zero Paperback – October 3, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage contemporaries ed edition (October 3, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679732608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679732600
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,244,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Key West, a group of loosely connected characters, ranging from street criminals to Vietnam vets to artists, slowly becomes drawn into a metaphysical mystery concerning a demonic, voodoo-inspired killer. "Dense, complex, often impenetrable and murky in its finale, this novel is certain to frustrate some readers; however, those with patience will discover a uniquely rendered, almost unearthly, evocation of Key West by a master writer," commented PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Mile Zero--or Key West, if you prefer--is for some a place where dreams begin, for others, the end of the road. In this third novel, Sanchez captures marvelously both the contemporary color and rich heritage of this city on the edge of two cultures. Yet, ultimately, the novel is not about place; instead, it is about the lingering impact of the Vietnam War on a generation, and the attempt to escape memories, to come to terms with one's self. Central to the story are St. Cloud, a former antiwar activist who is now an alcoholic dropout; MK, an army-trained assassin and South American drug king with whose girlfriend St. Cloud seeks redemption; Justo, a black Cuban policeman who finds salvation through contrition; and the mysterious Zobop, a self-styled Voodoo lord who believes in purification through destruction. While the hunt for Zobop provides a suspenseful plot line, the author's main objective is to get to the heart of his characters. At times violent, yet often lyrical, this is an impressive work that belongs in all public and most academic libraries.
- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Thomas Sanchez is a descendant of Spanish immigrants and Portuguese cattlemen dating back five generations to the 1800s California Gold Rush. Sanchez was born in Oakland Naval Hospital in 1944, days after his father was killed in the World War II Battle of Tawara. He was raised on a rural farm in California's Santa Clara Valley.

Sanchez' first novel, RABBIT BOSS, the hundred year saga of a California Indian Tribe, was begun at the age of 20 when he worked on cattle ranches in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. RABBIT BOSS was published when Sanchez was 27 and was cited by the San Francisco Chronicle as, "one of the most important books of the 20th century," by the New York Times as "A novel of epic dimensions," by Vanity Fair as "a landmark of our literature."

Throughout the 1960s in California, Sanchez witnessed and participated in many of the eras major social and political events, the strikes of the farm workers in the Central Valley, the tumultuous U.C. Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the clashes in San Francisco between anti-Vietnam War protesters and police, the counter-culture explosion of the infamous Haight-Ashbury District.

In the 1970s Sanchez was involved in the siege of Wounded Knee in the Black Hills of South Dakota, site of the infamous massacre of Sioux Indians, where Sanchez ran strategic supplies and food to Indians trapped inside the town of Wounded Knee, which had been surrounded by armed Federal forces with shoot-to-kill orders. A partial account of this event was published by Sanchez as, THE REAL COWBOYS AND INDIANS, in a commemorative American Bi-Centennial book collection with Henry Miller, whom Sanchez knew.

Sanchez next published, ZOOTSUIT MURDERS. The novel, set in the Los Angeles barrio of World War II, explored a chaotic world of anti-Communist hysteria, bizarre religious cults, tough gangs and undercover government agents. ZOOT-SUIT MURDERS was cited by the Chicago Tribune as, "a vivid tale of political intrigue by a master of pictorial detail." Following ZOOTSUIT MURDERS Sanchez was honored with a Guggenheim Award for his writings.

In the 1980s Sanchez lived in Key West and traveled from there throughout the American tropics. He was in harm's way during the Civil Wars of Guatemala and El Salvador, where he traversed both political and physical jungle landscapes with a real life cast of characters, from guerilla fighters to defrocked renegade priests, to bible toting CIA spooks and hardbitten war journalists. Much of this made its way into Sanchez's novel, MILE ZERO, about which the Los Angeles Times stated, "Sanchez forges a new world vision rich in the cultural intertextuality of Steinbeck and Cervantes, Joyce and Shakespeare."

Throughout the 1990s Sanchez lived in Paris, Provence and Mallorca, the settings for his novel, DAY OF THE BEES, about the hidden lives of a famous Spanish painter and his French mistress, a woman transformed from an artist's muse into a heroic Resistance fighter. The esteemed newspaper Le Monde declared DAY OF THE BEES, "A literary landmark, a novel of unforgettable power about love and war, art and freedom." The French Government knighted Sanchez with the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres for his body of work.

At the beginning of the 21st century Sanchez returned to the tropics for his novel, KING BONGO, set against the glamor and intrigue of pre-revolutionary 1950s Havana, where Cuban and American cultures collided with geo-political consequence. The Washington Post proclaimed the novel to be, "An exotic portrait of sex, violence, corruption and conspiracy in Cuba."

Thomas Sanchez's newest novel, AMERICAN TROPIC, is set in the exotic island city of Key West, where a series of murders is being committed by a mysterious assassin. The victims have something unusual in common--a reckless disregard for the natural world. Someone is literally killing the people who are killing the environment. The novel propels us through a complex maze populated by rapacious developers, ruthless scammers and common folk struggling in heroic acts for moral high ground. All of these characters, from Noah Sax, a pirate radio shock-jock crusading against the destruction of the environment, to Luz Zamora, a homicide detective and dedicated mother defending her family, are swept up in a torrent of ecological rage headed towards an explosive ending. The novel tackles many environmental issues of our day--the disappearance of America's only Continental Reef and the on-going destruction of marine life. The Pulitzer Prize winning author, Philip Caputo, has proclaimed, AMERICAN TROPIC, "a bold book of wild truth and poetry, destined to become a classic of environmental literature."

Sanchez is currently directing a feature film documentary, INTO THE LIGHT, about the legendary film director and Actors Studio icon, Jack Garfein, a philosophical warrior against religious, racial and gender bigotry who survived 11 concentration camps beginning in 1944 at the age of 13 in Auschwitz.

All the novels of Thomas Sanchez are published by Knopf/Vintage, New York.



Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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His sensivity crackles through every phrase he writes.
Ann Seymour
This might just be the greatest undiscovered novel in recent American literature.
"babaloo57"
This is one of those books where you sit shaking your head at what you just read.
James L. Woolridge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Nippert on June 12, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thomas Sanchez reminds me of a Key West James Joyce with his sometimes too thick, poetic prose and his very realistically drawn characters. He can make you feel the heat and humidity and the Florida atmosphere so directly you will start to sweat just reading about it. He has an amazing sense of time and place as well as character. This is a dense and rich book that puts overrated crap like "92 In The Shade" to shame. This is a tour de force of comedy, tragedy, passion and America.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Brilliant! Rare is the author that can create such flawed characters so attractive to the reader. From tragically human St. Cloud to mythic-hero-figure Justo, the complex faceting of personalities will draw you in. Add to this the richly drawn background of Key West, and you have a captivating and intelligent story.
Simply one of the best fiction works set in Florida and possibly the top of any based in the American fairy tale that is Key West.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "babaloo57" on December 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
This might just be the greatest undiscovered novel in recent American literature. It has it all: transcendant prose, a believable and credible story, wonderful characters, and a grand epic American theme involving immigration, corruption of the soul, and the American Dream. Reads like it was written in a fever by a true artist. Amen, Brother Sanchez, amen!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Reader in Key Largo on May 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Thomas Sanchez's MILE ZERO was proclaimed a "masterpiece" by the NY Times; the Washingon Post declared it a "A holy terror of a book." One can see why. Not only is it masterful, but it is also, as Vanity Fair proclaimed, "mythmaking and magisterial." Since its publication, MILE ZERO has achived mythic stature, and deservedly so, its "cultural and literary intertextuality," as the Los Angeles Times observed, certainly ranks with Lowry's UNDER THE VOLCANO and Steinbeck's EAST OF EDEN, which is why I have been using it in my college core curriculum for more than a decade. The novel mines the African-Anglo-Cuban history of the island of Key West and its people over the course of an American century, creating a timeless metaphor; at its heart is a Cuban-American protagonist whose moral complexity is at once shockingly modern and heartbreakingly human. There are many reasons why this controversial, risk taking and daring novel has touched so many and will continue to do so.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Reader in Key Largo on August 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
MILE ZERO is a literary landmark, a lush read that transforms the island of Key West into a vast and urgent metaphor for our times. I read the book when making my last Atlantic crossing and was struck by the insight into the life of the sea, island people, the constant interplay of history and modernity across a hundred years. Within the pages are the lives of Cubans and Americans, Bahamian Freemen, Conchs, cigar workers, rum drunk poets, Vietnam era revolutionaries, shark hunters, drug runners, shrimpers, grifters and shortcut men, all brought into special light by a stunning cast of inspirational no nonsense women. It's an exotic book with a language to match. If you enjoy taking the high wave ride then MILE ZERO is the craft that will get you there.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dave Bednar on March 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of my all time favorite novels, and Mr. Sanchez one of my all time favorite novelists. The vision of the author can be seen from the very beginning of the book. I was, and am, completely engrossed in this work of fiction, and have read it numerous times. The author's other novels, Zoot Suit Murders and Rabbit Boss are also masterpieces. My only regret is that there aren't more Sanchez works available. BUY THIS!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cunningham on September 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
One Helluva, Ingenious piece of writing. I first read this novel more than 10 years ago in a fog of overlooked impatience. Then, I must have categorized this book as an experimental exhibit in semi-obscurity. Upon second reading, I realize the genius of Thomas Sanchez' work. St. Cloud and Justo are authentic, breathing characters, and Key West remains the psychological and cultural frontier town; a perfect setting.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mile Zero is one of the great undiscovered masterpiece novels of the last quarter century. Reads like it was written in a fever. Ranks up there with Robert Stone (Flag for Sunrise) and Russell Banks (Continental Drift) -- and there is no better company. Thomas Sanchez is the bomb.
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