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Mile Marker Zero: Key West's Moveable Feast in the Seventies

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  196 Ratings  ·  39 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
ebook, 0 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Crown Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30)
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Craig Pittman
Dec 31, 2011 Craig Pittman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at some of the famous writers who have called Key West home -- with Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Thomas McGuane being the main ones -- although I wish it went a little further than it does. While jampacked with jaw-dropping anecdotes, it's not as good as William McKeen's brilliant biography of one of those writers who found a refuge on Bone Island, Hunter S. Thompson, "Outlaw Journalist."

I think it's because he has to cover so much territory, particularly with McGu
David Ward
Mile Marker Zero: The Moveable Feast of Key West by William McKeen (Crown Publishers 2011)(975.941) is an enjoyable tip of the cap to life on the island of Key West. The author briefly outlines the history of this the southernmost Key, but then he moves on to the focus of the book: the various artists who have called the island home. From Papa Hemmingway through Tennessee Williams on to Jimmy Buffett and Hunter Thompson, all have enjoyed the freedoms that life at the end of the U.S. have afforde ...more
Lewis Weinstein
I'm maybe 1/3 through. As a Key West resident, it's fun reading about Key West locations and people. This is a very unique and unusual place. A great place to live.


It got boring and repetitive. 2** is a stretch.
Peter Boody
Apr 26, 2013 Peter Boody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a Key West fan and must admit I'm one of those bourgeois touristy people that have allowed the developer and corporate types to turn Key West into a Disneyland version of its former dirty, stinking tropical-trash self. So despite my guilt, and my personal failure to head to Key West when I was 21 to go hang at the Chart Room, I really enjoyed this book, which is about the 1970s in Key West, when the Chart Room crowd — including Jimmy Buffet and writer Tom McGuane — formed a kind of manly sal ...more
Derek Dowell
Feb 25, 2012 Derek Dowell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you, like me, are a Key West history junkie who can’t get enough of this tropical oddity of geography, you might want to start digging through the couch cushions for spare change to buy Mile Marker Zero: The Moveable Feast of Key West by William McKeen. You should know up front the Kindle price is $12.99, which is such a ridiculously stratospheric number it makes me want to punch a publisher, but I’ll refrain for now. The really incredible part is that the paperback version is actually cheape ...more
J.K. Turner
Jun 26, 2016 J.K. Turner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-challenge
My Rating - Put It On The List

Level - Short to moderate in length, but reads longer, easy to moderate read


I'm torn on the summary. It can be summed up in a basic sentence, or it would take a whole page to do justice to the craziness of this book. essentially, it is about Key West, way back when. When Key West wasn't a tourist trap, when it was the wild west of modern America. This is post landbarron, like Flager, and celebrity, like Hemingway, but pre-over commercialization. There were as
Fred Forbes
Dec 11, 2011 Fred Forbes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I arrived in Florida in the early 80's from California and decided to head down to Key West with my wife just to check out that portion of our new state. We loved it - party town! From the sunset watch at Mallory Square to the drunken revelry at the local jazz spots it was great. We stayed at a funky hotel near the Southernmost Point for a bit under $40 a night. (Same spot now closer to $240 with 3 night minimum during major party times like Fantasy Fest, New Years or the Hemingway look alike co ...more
I live in south florida and work in the keys. I enjoy Key West and make it a point to get down there once or twice a year, which is more than enough for me, since i am not a heavy drinker and that is what is promoted there these days. I have always been fascinated about its history and its attraction for literary types and artists.

I have to be honest, I didn't know a lot of the people the author wrote about, which made those parts of the books boring and uninteresting to me...i basically skimme
May 18, 2013 JP rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read finished this on the ferry bound for Key West, which made for a perfect intro to the Isle of Bones. So many writers and artists have followed Hemingway's wake to arrive on Duval Street: Tom Corcoran, Thomas McGuane, Tennessee Williams, Jimmy Buffet, and, of course, Hunter S. Thompson. Most of them also followed his wake to exit the island, often with similarly tragic ends. What I most enjoyed about this book was how it introduced me to new writers about whom I hadn't yet heard enough to b ...more
Katherine Freniere

Are you kidding me?? One day I may pick this book up again and give it another shot but I stopped reading it because it was just pissing me off. How is this guy a journalism professor? He can't write!!! I LOVE Key West, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, writers, stories of drinking, drugs and excess but I couldn't get past so much that was horrible about this book. The author talks about things without explaining. He makes references and ASSUMES you know about what he's talking about. A lot of tim
There are people who will adore this book. To do it you have to know who Tom McGuane is and like Jimmy Buffett. That is a NO both counts. If McGuane is a name you don't recognize and haven't read you should probably know that he's "this generation's Hemingway". As a rule I'm considered very literate but I didn't know who Tom was or most his writing buddies. Turns out they hung out in Key West in the 70s. Have read most of Papa Hemingway and most of Tennessee Williams (a fave) who also had Key We ...more
Jan 18, 2012 Paultc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this a good deal, but I suspect one's reaction to the book will have a lot to do with how interested you are in a group of writers and artists who frequented Key West in the 1970s. This is not really a literary history of the island at all. It is a snapshot of a place in time. If the names Thomas McGuane, Jim Harrison, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Corcoran, Russell Chatham, Elizabeth Ashley, or Margot Kidder resonate with you, this is a must read book. If you could care less about these folks, tha ...more
John Cunningham
Nov 27, 2011 John Cunningham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great opportunity for insights into literary and musical Key West in the 1970's. I moved there right as the period that McKeen documents was ending, and he's right, things got a lot uglier in town then, thanks to the violence that escalated when pot smuggling was overshadowed by cocaine smuggling. But it was still a blast and really established my creative roots on the island with a long pedigree of literary history.

Fun to see more about writers like McGuane, Harrison, Buffett, Thompso
Oct 31, 2013 Gramy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I have lived in Florida most of my life. I only visited Key West for a weekend and did not observe the behavior portrayed in this book. I would never had stepped foot near it if I had read this book prior to the trip. The drunken and stoned people that are referred to may have created their own illusions. I really didn't appreciate the expletives in the book. It's a real turn-off. So much so that I opted not to complete the book, which is a rare choice for me.

Other people that view the world di
Sue Merrell
For a book about excesses, this certainly fills the bill. Language that might be a little shocking in conversation quickly becomes overpowering in print.I suspect many of the tales are exaggerated, such as sexual adventures on a crowded bar or a illogical mechanical sexual gratification machine that had Coast Guard wives standing in line. It's one long locker room brag fest, with very little explanation of the heart or motivations involved. And most disappointing of all, there's really very litt ...more
Joe Drape
Dec 30, 2011 Joe Drape rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful read about Key West in the 1970s became the mecca for macho literary types and at least one wistful sailor, Jimmy Buffet. They drank, fished and chased women. It really was a movable feast with writers like Thomas McGuane and Jim Harrison and Hunter S. Thompson in its orbit. Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams are featured in McKeen's gives a brief and anecdotal history of the island. The colorful locals, too, are given their due - the smugglers and bartenders. Now, I wan ...more
Sep 11, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing how much Key West has changed in 40 years! With all the sex, drugs and fun stories that are like quick scenes, Mile Marker Zero would make a much better movie than book...something like "Boogie Nights" - would it be as good as a book? For book format, it could use deeper character development for readers who don't know the people or town. The primary research done by the author is impressive, but I didn't see Jimmy Buffett and his family on the list of interviews even though he is one of ...more
Oct 28, 2011 JoYo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read on Key West that almost serves more like a mini-biography for quite a few of its 70s-era colorful characters. As a Thompson and Buffett fan, I obviously enjoyed those chapters the most, but was pleasantly surprised to read about folks like Corcoran and McGuane, both of whom I'd never heard of. Key West is a travel muse of mine, and I definitely wish I could experience this era of the little island, most of which, is now just a memory.
I started this one while in Key West, and it is always fun to read about the people and places of a certain place while you are there. It was interesting to learn more about this subculture of artists and authors of the '70s and how they failed and succeeded. I wasn't very familiar with a couple of them so now I'm interested to read some of their works.
Richard Wheeler
Aug 09, 2012 Richard Wheeler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an engaging portrait of literary life in Key West, focusing primarily on the seventies, when Tom McGuane and his pals were in residence. The author admires the literary achievements of these people more than the critics do, but it is fun to see these people park their inhibitions on the mainland and try everything.
Jul 16, 2013 Dotty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard bits & pieces of this book on The Radio Reader - and I was fascinated so I ordered it from the library. It was fun - and filled with interesting gossip about the late 60's & 70's in Key West - and the lives of various writers, musicians & characters who lived/worked there. This author also wrote a biography on Hunter S. Thompson.

(I'd give it a 3-1/2 if that was possible)
Apr 07, 2014 Deena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started this after a trip to Key West hoping to get a little more of the island flavor. This book is a treat for anyone interested in learning a little more about KW and the characters that have called it home.
Jun 09, 2012 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you love Key West, this is a must read. My only regret is that I never got to experience the Key West of this book. I love the Key West that I know now, but I think I might've loved McKeen's Key West even more.
Oct 05, 2011 Rollin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So Key West was a Paris of sorts for north American writers. Some of my favorites. Some I missed. Add a healthy dose of actors and musicians whose lives and marriages intertwined in surprising ways. And then there is the big connection with Montana. Quite a book.
Apr 13, 2012 Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was fun. I read it while on vacation in Key West. You can pick it up and put it down as you like. Nothing deep here, but like Key West a litle bit of this, a little bit of that, with Trop-rock playing in the backround.
Feb 27, 2012 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the hands of another writer, this could have been a better book. In his zeal to include everyone who was part of the Key West scene "back in the day", McKeen has short-changed most of the folks he's writing about.
Brian Getz
Mar 08, 2014 Brian Getz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Learned lots about Thomas McGuane and Hunter S. Thompson, and their role in the literary Key West scene of the 60's, 70's, and 80's. Loved the Chart Room tales involving Russ Chatham and Jim Harrison, as well as the back story of Tom Corcoran.
Elizabeth Moore
I'm excited about my trip to the Keys and I thought this was a travel book. I would never have picked this book to read but I'm glad I did a nice way to look forward to my trip know a bit more about the Keys.
May 10, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great reading about the place that really has grabbed my heart, and how it was only a few decades ago, and thinking about how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. Fascinating stories about so many famous artists and how Key West changed their lives.
Didn't end up finishing it. It focused less on Key West and more on the drunken and stoned antics of writers and artists living there. Not as fascinating as I expected it to be.
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Author of Mile Marker Zero, Outlaw Journalist, Highway 61, Rock and Roll is Here to Stay and several other books, William McKeen teaches at Boston University and chairs its department of journalism. He lives on the rocky coast of Cohasset, Massachusetts.
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