I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

Steve Earle. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-618-82096-2
In this spruce debut novel (nine years after his short story collection, Doghouse Roses), hard-core troubadour Earle ponders miracles, morphine, and mortality in 1963 San Antonio, Tex., where aging junkie Doc Ebersole performs backroom abortions to support his habit. Ten years before, the doctor was riding shotgun while his patient, fishing buddy, and fellow addict Hank Williams coughed his last in the Cadillac's backseat. Ever since, Hank has haunted Doc, who now "saw no need to squander more than a single syllable on a miserable life such as his own." Hank's ghost berates Doc for taking in one of Doc's "in trouble" Mexican girls, Graciela, who has breathed life not only into the lonesome codger, but into scores of San Antonio desperados who slink through their boarding-house clinic. Word is spreading that Graciela heals and redeems, and that even Doc might kick his habit if he doesn't kick the bucket first. With its Charles Portis vibe and the author's immense cred as a musician and actor, this should have no problem finding the wide audience it deserves. It won't hurt that Earle's next album comes out around the same time and shares the title. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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Paperback - 243 pages - 978-0-547-75443-7
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Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-547-54904-0
Paperback - 243 pages - 978-0-09-955447-9
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