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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive
I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive is Steve Earle's first novel. Confusingly, the book shares the title with his recent album, though the only obvious link is perhaps a haunting presence of Hank Williams.

It tells the tale of Doc Ebersole, a morphine junkie whose addiction led to the loss of his medical license and the downward spiral that followed. In 1963...
Published on 7 July 2011 by B. Wright

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vivid writing - even if the plot is a little incoherent
There's a lot to like about country stalwart Steve Earle's latest novel. It is roughly concerned with the ghost of equally famous country legend Hank Williams, who dies in mysterious circumstances. In this book Hank is haunting a doctor who has been struck off due to his morphine addiction, but who continues to practice in the form of offering illegal abortions in San...
Published on 23 Nov 2011 by J. Coulton


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, 7 July 2011
By 
B. Wright (Gloucester, UK) - See all my reviews
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I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive is Steve Earle's first novel. Confusingly, the book shares the title with his recent album, though the only obvious link is perhaps a haunting presence of Hank Williams.

It tells the tale of Doc Ebersole, a morphine junkie whose addiction led to the loss of his medical license and the downward spiral that followed. In 1963 he finds himself living in the red light district of San Antonio, carrying out illegal abortions and minor surgeries to support his addiction. To make his troubles worse, he lives with the ghost of Hank Williams - punishment perhaps for the fact that Doc is rumoured to have given the country singer the final morphine dose that killed him out on a lonesome highway in West Virginia. But then he meets Graciela, a seemingly fragile Mexican girl who finds herself delivered to Doc by her wayward boyfriend. This night is a turning point for Doc and those around him: slowly Graciela's influence affects the whole neighborhood and an aura of hope permeates San Antonio. Helping Doc with his surgeries, she is seen as a miracle worker, calming and healing those who even Doc believed were beyond hope.

The book has a wonderfully varied cast of characters; linked by their status as outcasts, these whores, addicts and drunks are invisible to the rest of society. Yet even at their lowest, these people have redeeming qualities. This is a tale of survival and redemption. It questions the concept of faith, of `good' and `evil' as binary opposites, showing that even a priest can sin, that an abortionist can want only to heal. It is Doc who holds this community together, and Father Killen who shatters the peace in his over-zealous desire to `save' Graciela. The throes of addiction are described in vivid and uncomfortable detail, but Earle also shows the beauty of companionship; Manny is Doc's dealer, but also his friend and does everything to look after him, while the relationship between Doc and Hank's ghost is at times laugh-out-loud funny, but also incredibly touching as Hank is literally lost without Doc. It is the link between Doc and Graciela which is central to the novel though and the reader can't help but be moved by the tenderness and warmth, the inherent understanding between the two characters.

I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive is a beautifully nuanced novel, combining social reality with pop culture in just the right measure to make a story that is incredibly powerful and easily readable. Steve Earle has crafted a vivid and heart-warming story, mixing elements of magical realism with gentle humour and raw emotion to create his own modern-day myth.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked from page 1, 5 Sep 2011
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R. Grant (Coimbra, Portugal) - See all my reviews
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Having seen that one of the main characters in this novel is the ghost of Hank Williams, I couldn't resist, although I knew of Steve Earle as a musician rather than as a writer. I was gripped by this from the very start. Set in Texas near the Mexican border in 1963 (it's not giving much away to say that JFK's assassination takes place offstage), this book brings together a gallery of marginal characters including a heroin-addicted abortionist, a madame, an illegal immigrant who might just be a saint . . . . I think what I like best is the dialogue: Earle's ear for music is apparent everywhere and the characters all have their distinctive voices. The ongoing talk between the Doc and Hank's ghost is perhaps best of all.

Very highly recommended.

Oh, and you might like to listen to Steve's album of the same title, too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A generous book about folks for whom the only way is up., 25 Dec 2011
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Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
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It's 1963 in Texas, and Doc is down on his luck. Haunted by the irascible ghost of his sometime friend and patient Hank Williams, Doc has fallen out of practice and into dope addiction, scraping by in a boarding house by performing back-street abortions for prostitutes and poor girls. One of these waifs, Graciela, is left behind with him, unable to speak English and with nowhere to go. Over time he and Graciela become partners - in 'crime', if not precisely in love - but her startling and inexplicable healing powers begin to draw unwelcome attention.

This is a smart novel at the bottom of society. Steve Earle's prose is economic and pointed and he evokes the time and place very well. Ultimately the characters are fumbling towards ways to get right with themselves and their gods, and Earle deftly mixes elements from Mexican, Catholic and American cultures, his fantasy inclusions nodding towards magic realism. A word-fencing conversation between two priests, pulled out of a hat near the end, is a particular treat. The book is a heartening yet clear-sighted redemption song.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vivid writing - even if the plot is a little incoherent, 23 Nov 2011
By 
J. Coulton "Julia Coulton" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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There's a lot to like about country stalwart Steve Earle's latest novel. It is roughly concerned with the ghost of equally famous country legend Hank Williams, who dies in mysterious circumstances. In this book Hank is haunting a doctor who has been struck off due to his morphine addiction, but who continues to practice in the form of offering illegal abortions in San Antonio to desperate Mexican women. If that sounds a bit far out for a plot line, then that's about right.

There is some lovely evocative writing here, Earle using the same talent in prose as he does in his lyrics. And you also get the feeling that he is drawing on his own chequered personal experiences to chart the Doc's own troubled path. He falls into a relationship with a young beautiful Mexican girl called Graciela, who seems to possess angelic powers of healing and redemption for all whose path she crosses.

But the plot gets a bit crowded, and the direction of travel becomes a bit obscure. Earle does transport you to that place and time, and you can imagine the problems Doc gets himself entwined in very well from the vivid narrative. It just doesn't hang together coherently enough to really draw you in too deep. But it's the best novel I have read by a country singer about another country singer in a real long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a compelling read, 5 Oct 2011
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I. R. Jesson (Northampton, Northants United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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steve earle's descriptive narrative hooks you over the first few pages and doesn't let go.all of the characters are very believable in their varied roles but for me the ghost of hank williams is the key player and 'the docs' withdrawal from heroin addiction is written with some authority by the author.great read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars steve earle book., 18 May 2014
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Its a great idea for a story: a drug-addled doctor haunted by the ghost of that drink-sodden legend hank williams. For a while all is good reading; particularly the exchanges between doc and hank. The feel of san antonio's rougher part is very well written in , and also a small group of characters are skillfully added. However, its with these characters I had problems with; suddenly, all these people, the husband -beater, the prostitute, even the local drug dealer, guess what? They all have hearts of gold. (Yes, even the drug dealer!) So , it sometimes gets bogged-down in cloying sentimentality;but still a good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars nice., 8 Mar 2013
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This review is from: I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive (Paperback)
a must read. if you feel country, then this is your book. if you're living, then this is your book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, 16 Feb 2013
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I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive by Steve Earle.
Steve writes a good story and I enjoyed this one. Junkies, or in this case an ex junkie, tend to go on about the fixing ceremony ad nauseum and Steve does. Also Hank's ghost has a bit too much to say. Nevertheless a good four stars. I sub vocalised with William Burroughs as the voice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, 26 Dec 2011
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Rowhedge (Liverpool, England) - See all my reviews
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I am a long-time fan of Steve Earle's music so I was really keen to read his first novel and I was not disappointed. I literally couldn't put it down, reading it in one day. I may well read it all over again straightaway. Full of characters drawn with sympathy and understanding, at least one of them autobiographical, I would imagine, it held my attention from start to finish. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 Aug 2014
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This review is from: I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive (Paperback)
Everything I wanted it to be and then some.
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I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive
I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive by Steve Earle (Paperback - 5 July 2012)
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