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Mile Marker Zero: The Moveable Feast of Key West
Synopses & Reviews
True tales of writers and pirates, painters and potheads, guitar pickers and drug merchants in America’s southernmost city
For Hemingway and Fitzgerald, there was Paris in the twenties. For others, later, there was Greenwich Village, Big Sur, and Woodstock. But for an even later generation—one defined by the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Tom McGuane, and Hunter S. Thompson—there was another moveable feast: KeyWest, Florida.
The small town on the two-by-four-mile island has long been an artistic haven, a wild refuge for people of all persuasions, and the inspirational home for a league of great American writers. Some of the artists went there to be literary he-men. Some went to re-create themselves. Others just went to disappear—and succeeded. No matter what inspired the trip, Key West in the seventies was the right place at the right time, where and when an astonishing collection of artists wove a web of creative inspiration.
Mile Marker Zero tells the story of how these writers and artists found their identities in Key West and maintained their friendships over the decades, despite oceans of booze and boatloads of pot, through serial marriages and sexual escapades, in that dangerous paradise.
Unlike the “Lost Generation” of Paris in the twenties, we have a generation that invented, reinvented, and found itself at the unending cocktail party at the end—and the beginning—of America’s highway.
"Geographically isolated Key West, Fla., gained a reputation for vice and lawlessness while also developing a unique spirit and culture both Latin and Anglo, writes McKeen (biographer of Hunter S. Thompson). The spirit of Hemingway, who wrote or worked on nearly all of his major works there between 1928 and 1939, hovers over the island; and Tennessee Williams moved there in the'40s and was still hanging out into the '70s when the streets were thick with younger writers, artists, and musicians like Tom McGuane, Jim Harrison, Hunter Thompson, and Jimmy Buffett. Although McKeen's portrait of Key West as a onetime bohemian utopia and hotspot is atmospheric, and many of his anecdotes are absorbing, others are marred by patches of flabby and testosterone-fueled prose and never quite gel into a cohesive narrative. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
WILLIAM McKEEN teaches at Boston University, where he chairs the department of journalism. He is the author or editor of nine books, including the acclaimed Hunter S. Thompson biography Outlaw Journalist. He is married and the father of seven children and lives on the rocky coast of Cohasset, Massachusetts.
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