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Authors: Thomas Sanchez

Mile Zero

BOOK: Mile Zero
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“A great novel of America … unforgettable.”

—Miami Herald

“Lush, tropical, feverish … Cultures explode in
Mile Zero
.… Sanchez’s fictional Key West acts as a narcotic propelling the characters into a bizarre American dreamland, turning them into human firecrackers.”


“An epic of Americana for the 60s generation come of age, grand and encompassing … The scope is tremendous … the language, nothing short of stunning … This is great stuff.”

—Houston Chronicle

“A fully realized portrait of America on the other side of Vietnam
… Mile Zero
is a brave, smart novel with huge swatches of color and ironic vision that belong to Thomas Sanchez alone.”

—Boston Globe

“A personal vision of the great American novel … a rare and exhilarating experience, a brilliant wide-angled metaphorical treatise on modern American life.”


“Hypnotic … world-class literature, bends the mind as only great literature can … a brilliant, brooding lyric epic.”

—San Jose Mercury News

“Packed with stories, crowded with characters, lush with language—a Gothic mystery gone contemporary and cosmic … rich and overwhelming in its abundance.”

—Philadelphia Inquirer

Mile Zero
reads as if it were written in the author’s own blood, carved on his soul, plucked from a mind on the brink…. It is what the Great American Novel was supposed to be about: the great American experience.”

—Toronto Star

“With all of its cranks, madmen and saints … 
Mile Zero
becomes, in its mythical accounts of tenderness and brutality, a great American novel.”

—Milwaukee Journal

“Part thriller, part romance, part phantasmagoria … a dense, tropical nightmare of bright sunshine and dark images that stay with you long after its strange finale.”

—Charlotte Observer

“A psychic travelogue, a brilliant, breathless ride into the dark heart of a perfect metaphor.”

—Dallas Morning News

“A major literary event from a writer of enormous gifts … 
Mile Zero
is a novel of exquisite sorrow … and terrible beauty.”

—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“The only safe thing to say about
Mile Zero
is that it is unique. Its tornado-like blend of history, myth, and fable are sure to draw comparisons to Gabriel García Márquez…. Sanchez is a linguistic juggler.”

—St. Louis Times-Dispatch

“Sanchez is interested in nothing less than encapsulating the entire 60s and all the passionate turmoil that era symbolizes.”

—Seattle Times

“Exciting … a whale of a story … vivid and exotic.”

—USA Today



Rabbit Boss
Zoot-Suit Murders



Copyright © 1989 by Thomas Sanchez
Map copyright © 1989 by Claudia Carlson

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., in 1989.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sanchez, Thomas.
Mile zero / Thomas Sanchez.—1st Vintage
contemporaries ed.
p. cm. —(Vintage contemporaries)
eISBN: 978-0-307-76608-3
I. Title.
PS3569.A469M55 1990
813’.54—dc20          90-50248




Stephanie Dante, who
rocked it on
Jon Lovelace, who
pulled it from


Robert Kirsch • Dorothea Oppenheimer • Henry Robbins


The National Endowment for the Arts
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
The Yaddo Corporation




Agoué, kòté ou yé

Ou pa oué mwê nâ résif

Agoué, kòté ou yé

Ou pa oué mwé sou lâ mè

M’gê zavirô nâ mê mwê

M’pa sa toune déyè

M’douvâ déja

Master Agwé, where are you?

Can’t you see I’m on the reef?

Agwé, where are you?

Can’t you see I’m on the sea?

I have an oar in my hand

I cannot turn back

I am going forward



about water. It was about water in the beginning, it will be in the end. The ocean mothered us all. Water and darkness awaiting light. Night gives birth. An inkling of life over distant sea swells toward brilliance. Dawn emerges from Africa, strikes light between worlds, over misting mountains of Haiti, beyond the Great Bahama Bank, touching cane fields of Cuba, across the Tropic of Cancer to the sleeping island of Key West, farther to the Gold Coast of Florida, its great wall of condominiums demarcating mainland America.

With coming light come seabirds skimming water, they fathom approaching weather without raising their heads, reading a surface of reflected cloud mountains imprinted over currents roaring through underwater canyons. Seabirds fly into new day, beneath them a watery world of mystery equal to the airy one above, where a man-made bird of steel streaks atop a pillar of flame. Only moments before the steel bird shook off an umbilical maze of flight feeders, its capsule head inhabited by six humans, their combined minds infinitely less than the bird’s programmed range of computerized functions. The steel bird pierced infinite space with calculated grace, sending supersonic shock waves earthward, scattering over ocean’s surface a new current, entrails of a departing dream hurtling heavenward. Seabirds read this curious current, only their feathered wings stir the air in silent aftermath.

BOOK: Mile Zero
2.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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