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I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive Paperback – Bargain Price, May 22, 2012
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2011: Steve Earle's heartbreaking debut novel features a morphine addict who performs illegal abortions, a young Mexican girl with mysterious healing powers, the ghost of Hank Williams, and a host of other more or less charismatic misfits. Set in San Antonio around the time of JFK’s assassination, and told with an equal mix of sympathy and violent detail, the story maintains a delicate balance of many such would-be opposing forces: Catholicism and "hoodoo," addiction and redemption, brutal reality and magical realism. A first novel this compelling from any author would be cause for celebration, but Earle is also a musician (the GRAMMY®-winning albums Washington Square Serenade and Townes), actor (The Wire), and activist, and in this context the book is even more of a watershed accomplishment. I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive is decidedly not for the faint of art, but adventuresome fiction readers will find much to love in its shocking, tender depths. --Jason Kirk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A deft, big-spirited novel about sin, faith, redemption, and the family of man ... You keep reading and you keep believing."
“Steve Earle brings to his prose the same authenticity, poetic spirit, and cinematic energy he projects in his music. I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive is like a dream you can’t shake, offering beauty and remorse, redemption in spades.”
“Shot through with humor and insight and ... enough action and intriguing characters in it to keep readers turning pages.”
“Earle’s writing never lacks heart.”
—New York Times Book Review
“As he does in his songs, Earle finds the tenuous points of emotional connection between characters who are living not only on the edges of their own ability to cope, but often on the very margins of society itself.”
"This subtle and dramatic book is the work of a brilliant songwriter who has moved from song to orchestral ballad with astonishing ease."
"Earle has delivered plenty of potent messages during his turbulent career, but he has never pricked the public’s conscience in as many different ways ... The renegade troubadour-turned-renaissance man ... challenge[s] audiences to think about mortality, redemption, addiction, artistic commitment and other soul-searing questions."
"Raw, honest and unafraid, this novel veers in and out of the lives of its many memorable characters with flawless pitch. Steve Earle has given us dozens of remarkable songs, he has given us a dazzling collection of short stories, and now here’s his first novel, a doozy from a great American storyteller."
"Earle is pointing out that in fiction reality can merge with myth in the service of a larger truth . . . [I’ll Never Get out of This World Alive] aspires to a certain gritty transcendence . . . [and] comes with a mythic underpinning, a touch of the mysteries."
—Los Angeles Times
"Iconic country-rocker Earle’s imaginative first novel follows the troubled life of Doc Ebersole, who may have supplied the shot of morphine that killed country legend Hank Williams . . . Earle draws on the rough-and-tumble tenderness in his music to create a witty, heartfelt story of hope, forgiveness, and redemption."
"This is an impressive debut novel. The characters are unforgettable, and the plot moves like a fast train. A fantastic mixture of hard reality and dark imagination."
"Earle has created a potent blend of realism and mysticism in this compelling, morally complex story of troubled souls striving for a last chance at redemption. Musician, actor, and now novelist—is there another artist in America with such wide-ranging talent?"
"In this spruce debut novel . . . hard-core troubadour Earle ponders miracles, morphine, and mortality . . .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."
"This richly imagined novel not only takes its title from a Hank Williams classic, it audaciously employs Hank’s ghost as a combination of morphine demon and guardian angel . . . Already well-respected for both his music and his acting, Earle can now add novelist to an impressive résumé."
—Kirkus, starred review
"What a delight to read this novel and find so many elements I’ve admired in Steve Earle’s songwriting for nearly twenty-five years. It is a rich, raw mix of American myth and hard social reality, of faith and doubt, always firmly rooted in a strong sense of character."
"Steve Earle writes like a shimmering neon angel."
"Earle’s first novel provides a haunting and haunted bookend to Irving’s Cider House Rules. The ghost of Hank Williams walks through this abortionist’s tale that has much to do with grace and aging and death—and the power of the feminine. Gritty and transcendent, Earle has successfully created his own potion of Texas, twang, and dope-tinged magic-realism."
"Everyone knows that Steve Earle ranks among the very best, and most authentic, songwriters in the history of America. With his first novel, Earle has established himself as one of our most knowledgeable and sympathetic writers period. He is a natural-born storyteller. If Jesus were to return tomorrow to 21st-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. Only the man who wrote "Copperhead Road" could have authored I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive."
—Howard Frank Mosher
"A poignant story of madness and redemption woven into a tapestry of real world desperation and old world magic. It’s colorful, cool, and downright gripping."
—Robert Earl Keen
"The best book I’ve read since The Road. With the lure of Hank Williams’ ghost, a touch of the Kennedy assassination, a little Castaneda and a few miracles, he takes on the underworld and organized religion, and reality as it’s generally supposed, with great certainty and research and style."
—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."
"I’ll Never Get out of This World Alive 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."
"Outsider artists like Steve Earle bring a breath of fresh air to the literary world. I just wish they’d come around more often. Richly imagined and handily crafted—a mighty fine piece of storytelling."
—Madison Smartt Bell
"Perhaps only another great country singer would have the courage to cast [country singer Hank] Williams in the guise of a malignant hillbilly harpy, whose presence inevitably heralds imminent doom . . . And though the novel comes no closer to establishing the facts of Hank Williams’s death, it certainly reveals a good deal of the truth behind it."
Top customer reviews
Anyway, it didn't bug me enough to shave away stars. I highly recommend Earle's book for anyone who admires people, and tolerates life, and is willing to stretch out a bit, let the groove find them, and ride for a while with one of the world's greatest troubadours still in a body. Oh, and in case you didn't already know: THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW!
"I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" spins the death of Hank Williams into a tale of the doctor who "may" have given Hank the morphine shot that killed him. Haunted (and I mean literally) by that incident, Doc becomes a disbarred doctor in the slums of San Antonio, caring for the prostitutes, junkies, criminals, and more. Only Steve Earle writing this story would have led me to reading it. Listen to the CD too !
It's the fall of 1963 in a rundown neighborhood of San Antonio. Doc Ebersole is a disgraced former physician struggling with a severe morphine addiction--and he's being haunted by the ghost of his former patient and fishing buddy, Hank Williams. (The rumor is that Doc gave Williams the morphine shot that might have killed him.) Doc lives in a boarding house and, in an effort to support his habit, treats the local criminals, prostitutes and drug dealers for sexually transmitted diseases, gun and knife wounds, and other injuries and illnesses--and performs abortions for women who find themselves "in trouble." Into this mess comes Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant in need of Doc's services. She stays with Doc after she recovers, and after she sustains a wound that won't seem to heal, she discovers her ability to heal Doc's patients and send them on the road to a new life. But not everyone is happy about these supposed miracles--including the local clergy nor Hank Williams' ghost.
This book really took me by surprise. When I started reading it I thought it would be a harrowing story of a man near the end of his rope, struggling with a debilitating addiction yet trying to help others to feed his habit. But Doc was much more complex than I expected, and the people that surrounded him, including Graciela, were layered, fascinating people. I even found the mystical parts of the book enjoyable, although I felt the subplot with the local priest to be a bit unnecessary. Even as I had suspicions where the book would go, I savored every page. Earle is a talented writer, and he has created a fascinating little world that might not be pretty or happy, but it sure is interesting. Great book.