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Mile Zero

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About the Author

Thomas Sanchez lived for many years in Key West, Mallorca, and Paris, where the French Republic awarded him the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. He currently resides in Key West. He is the author of King Bongo, Mile Zero, Day of the Bees, Zoot-Suit Murders and Rabbit Boss, which was named by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the most important books of the twentieth century.


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.

"Dazzling...a comic masterpiece crackling with backhanded wit... bursting with vital characters...a novel of uncommon richness....Its brilliantly contrived plot uncoils with the suspense of a thriller."
--New York Times Book Review

"A holy terror of a book...[It has] immense power and passion.... Half mystery, half panegyric and wholly one of a kind, Mile Zero is [a] fascinating novel about the end of the American road and the beginnings of a new world."
--Washington Post Book World

"A mythmaking and magisterial novel." --Vanity Fair

Sanchez's 1973 debut, Rabbit Boss , inspired critics to compare his writing to that of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and his newest work, his first novel in 11 years, may do the same, with its tumultuous, linguistically heady combination of history, myth, fable and fate. Set in Key West, the narrative introduces a group of loosely connected characters--a dissolute renegade named St. Cloud, a Cuban-American policeman named Justo, a displaced Southern belle, a terrified young fugitive from Haiti and numerous others, ranging from street criminals to Vietnam vets to artists. It's an extraordinary group portrait of a true expatriate community--``everyone this far south of the south seemed to have left behind a shadow life,'' he writes--but also more purposeful than it appears initially. Gradually, the author draws all his characters into the vortex of a metaphysical mystery: Who is ``Zobop,'' the demonic, voodoo-inspired killer leaving his bloody mark on the island? 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. 50,000 first printing. (Oct.)

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