I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle
Synopsis: (from the book jacket):
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.
When I first stumbled upon a book with Steve Earle listed as author, I assumed that it was an autobiography. Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that it was the singer/songwriter’s first novel. I was intrigued. As a songwriter, Earle is an outstanding storyteller. I simply had to know if that storytelling talent would translate. The short answer is yes, yes it does.
I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive is a simple story at it’s core. The plot isn’t convoluted or intricate, but it’s interesting and compelling. The characters, both the MCs and the secondary cast, are multi-dimensional and captivating. On top of that, Earle does an amazing job of painting pictures with words - and not just physical descriptions, though he does that well. He uses creative language to evoke emotions, scents, sounds, and sights. You can almost taste the dust and feel the heat of a San Antonio summer.
The short of it is this: I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive held my attention from word one, and it’s a book that I would highly recommend to most readers (The book does contain somewhat sensitive subject matter, so I wouldn’t recommend it to people that might be bothered by that). It’s the sort of book that you don’t forget five minutes after you finish reading it, and that you’re likely to find yourself picking up again in the future.
Rating: 5 of 6 stars (lightning review policy), 4 of 5 stars (mainstream sight review policies)