Thomas Sanchez on Mile Zero: 1989
the George Murphy interview
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Sanchez’s Mile Zero. The epic novel unfolds in a Key West both richly imagined and uncannily accurate, where St. Cloud, Justo Tamarindo, Zobop, and El Finito are players in a late-twentieth century clash of generations, cultures, and beliefs. Hailed by The New York Times as "a comic masterpiece," it is, together with Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not and Thomas McGuane’s Panama, a landmark in the literature of our island city.
In 1989, as Knopf was preparing the book for press, Sanchez agreed to an interview with George Murphy, a former local mayoral candidate and editor of the excellent anthology, The Key West Reader: The Best of Key West’s Writers, 1830-1990. Over the course of several late nights at the now-legendary Full Moon Saloon, the following conversation took shape. In the interview, originally published in Island Life, Sanchez discusses the origins and development of Mile Zero, the parallels between Key West and Cannery Row, and the concept of contrabandista.