I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
By Steve Earle
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618820962, 256pp.)
Publication Date: July 2011
Doc Ebersole lives with the ghost of Hank Williams—not just in the figurative sense, not just because he was one of the last people to see him alive, and not just because he is rumored to have given Hank the final morphine dose that killed him.
In 1963, ten years after Hank's death, Doc himself is wracked by addiction. Having lost his license to practice medicine, his morphine habit isn't as easy to support as it used to be. So he lives in a rented room in the red-light district on the south side of San Antonio, performing abortions and patching up the odd knife or gunshot wound. But when Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant, appears in the neighborhood in search of Doc's services, miraculous things begin to happen. Graciela sustains a wound on her wrist that never heals, yet she heals others with the touch of her hand. Everyone she meets is transformed for the better, except, maybe, for Hank's angry ghost—who isn't at all pleased to see Doc doing well.
A brilliant excavation of an obscure piece of music history, Steve Earle's I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive is also a marvelous novel in its own right, a ballad of regret and redemption, and of the ways in which we remake ourselves and our world through the smallest of miracles.
STEVE EARLE is a singer-songwriter, actor, activist, and the author of a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year, the story collection Doghouse Roses. He has released more than a dozen critically acclaimed albums, including the Grammy winners The Revolution Starts Now, Washington Square Serenade, and Townes. He has appeared on film and television, with celebrated roles in The Wire and Treme. His newest album, entitled I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, was produced by T Bone Burnett. He often tours with his wife, singer-songwriter Allison Moorer.
—Alice Randall "If Jesus were to return tomorrow to twenty-first-century America, and do some street preaching on the gritty South Presa Strip of San Antonio, he’d love Earle’s magnificently human, big-hearted drifters." —Howard Frank Mosher "Colorful, cool, and downright gripping." —Robert Earl Keen "Reads like the best of Steve Earle’s story songs, which means real good. The tale of a more charmingly haunted, trying-to-do-the-right-thing dope fiend you won’t easily find." —Mark Jacobson "The best book I've read since The Road. As much or more than any other artist of his generation Steve Earle rises to the call, culturally and politically, traditionally in folk and country and rock music and what he’s added there, and with acting and writing for theater, and now with all the literary forms crescendoing in this beautiful novel. He just keeps stepping up." —R. B. Morris "Steve Earle astonishes us yet again. Country Rock's outlaw legend brings the ghost of Hank Williams to life in a gloriously gritty first novel that soars like a song. And echoes in the heart." —Terry Bisson
"A mighty fine piece of storytelling." —Madison Smartt Bell