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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

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I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive Cover

ISBN13: 9780618820962
ISBN10: 0618820965
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"Everyone knows that terrible things happen in old country songs: A wife leaves her husband; a guy dies at war. Life's rough, times are hard.

Steve Earle, the well-known singer-songwriter, embraces this heartbreaky landscape in his first novel, a rowdy country music song turned into narration. The book's title — and what a superb title it is — comes from Hank Williams' last No. 1 hit, before his death, at age 29, in 1953.

Hank's ghost haunts the pages of Earle's story. But mostly he just haunts Doc, an ex-doctor who's fallen on hard times. Long ago, Doc injected Hank with morphine, to ease his back pain, which may have contributed to his death." Don Waters, San Francisco Chronicle (Read the entire San Francisco Chronicle review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Praise for I'LL NEVER GET OUT OF THIS WORLD ALIVE

"Steve Earle brings to his prose the same authenticity, poetic spirit, and cinematic energy he projects in his music. Ill Never Get Out of This World Alive is like a dream you cant shake, offering beauty and remorse, redemption in spades." —Patti Smith ". . . a doctor, a Mexican girl, an Irish priest, the ghost of Hank Williams, and JFK the day before he dies. This subtle and dramatic book is the work of a brilliant songwriter who has moved from song to orchestral ballad with astonishing ease." —Michael Ondaatje "A rich, raw mix of American myth and hard social reality, of faith and doubt, always firmly rooted in a strong sense of character." —Charles Frazier "Steve Earle writes like a shimmering neon angel." —Kinky Friedman "Earle has created a potent blend of realism and mysticism. Musician, actor, and now novelist—is there another artist in America with such wide-ranging talent?" —Ron Rash "The characters are unforgettable and the plot moves like a fast train. A fantastic mixture of hard reality and dark imagination." —Thomas Cobb "A haunting and haunted bookend to Irvings Cider House Rules. Gritty and transcendent, Earle has successfully created his own potion of Texas, twang, and dope-tinged magic realism." —Alice Randall

Review:

"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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

A novel based on the imagined life of Hank Williams's sidekick and sometimes doctor, Doc Ebersole, and his haunting by his famous, dead friend.

Synopsis:

A brilliant tale of regret and redemption set in the wake of Hank Williams' death by morphine overdose, Steve Earle brings an obscure piece of music history to life in this debut novel.

Synopsis:

“Steve Earle brings to his prose the same authenticity, poetic spirit, and cinematic energy he projects in his music. Ill Never Get Out of This World Alive is like a dream you cant shake, offering beauty and remorse, redemption in spades.” —Patti Smith

“Shot through with humor and insight and . . . enough action and intriguing characters in it to keep readers turning pages.” —Boston Globe

Doc Ebersole lives with the ghost of Hank Williams. Literally.

In 1963, ten years after he may have given Hank the morphine shot that killed him, Doc has lost his license. Living in the red-light district of San Antonio, he performs abortions and patches up the odd knife wound to feed his addiction. But when Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant, appears in the neighborhood in search of Docs services, miraculous things begin to happen. Everyone she meets is transformed for the better, except, maybe, for Hanks angry ghost—who isnt at all pleased to see Doc doing well.

Synopsis:

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.

Video

About the Author

Steve Earle is a singer-songwriter, actor, activisit, and the author of the story collection Doghouse Roses. He has released over 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.  Frequently interviewed and profiled in the press, he often tours with his wife, singer-songwriter Allison Moorer.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Denise Morland, September 7, 2011 (view all comments by Denise Morland)
I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive tells the story of Doc, a wrecked doctor who has had his license revoked, doing whatever work he can get to fund his morphine addiction, mostly illegal abortions with a few bullet removals thrown in. Haunted, literally, by the ghost of Hank Williams, Doc spends his days in San Antonio arguing with the cantankerous ghost and biding his time before morphine hits. When a pregnant, young Mexican Graciela is dropped on his doorstep she brings with her a strong faith and the ability to heal in mysterious ways. Hank isn't pleased, but Doc is smitten with Graciela and ignores the displeased ghost at his own peril.

This book is the best of modern westerns! Doc is gruff and rough-edged but has a heart of gold. He and the his equally sketchy companions all fall hard for the beautiful and mysterious Graciela. As her magic takes hold and they begin to heal and better their lives the reader can't help but wonder what Hank Williams will do next. The classic characters are all there from the boarding house madam and the downtrodden whores to the domino playing drug dealer and his nemesis the corrupt cop. I found them all growing on me as the story progressed and by the end I was hooked.

I listened to I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive on audio, narrated by Steve Earle himself. Oh! What a voice! It is worth listening to the book just for the 7 hours of deep, choc lately, gravely baritone. He absolutely brings Doc to life as a soft man living a hard life.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Adele Pelletier, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Adele Pelletier)
You might think a book with a dead Hank Williams as a character would be a bit bizarre, and maybe this book is, but I prefer to consider it mystical. It is an engaging book, with a cast of unadmirable folks selling, using and trying to recover from drugs with a protagonist you hope wins his struggle and regains his self respect. I ahve always enjoyed Steve Earle's music, and hear the same voice throughout this compelling read. Well worth the time.
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View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618820962
Author:
Earle, Steve
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20110512
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 0.53 lb

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Related Subjects

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I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive Used Hardcover
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - English 9780618820962 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review A Day" by , "Everyone knows that terrible things happen in old country songs: A wife leaves her husband; a guy dies at war. Life's rough, times are hard.

Steve Earle, the well-known singer-songwriter, embraces this heartbreaky landscape in his first novel, a rowdy country music song turned into narration. The book's title — and what a superb title it is — comes from Hank Williams' last No. 1 hit, before his death, at age 29, in 1953.

Hank's ghost haunts the pages of Earle's story. But mostly he just haunts Doc, an ex-doctor who's fallen on hard times. Long ago, Doc injected Hank with morphine, to ease his back pain, which may have contributed to his death." (Read the entire San Francisco Chronicle review)
"Synopsis" by ,

A novel based on the imagined life of Hank Williams's sidekick and sometimes doctor, Doc Ebersole, and his haunting by his famous, dead friend.

"Synopsis" by ,

A brilliant tale of regret and redemption set in the wake of Hank Williams' death by morphine overdose, Steve Earle brings an obscure piece of music history to life in this debut novel.

"Synopsis" by ,
“Steve Earle brings to his prose the same authenticity, poetic spirit, and cinematic energy he projects in his music. Ill Never Get Out of This World Alive is like a dream you cant shake, offering beauty and remorse, redemption in spades.” —Patti Smith

“Shot through with humor and insight and . . . enough action and intriguing characters in it to keep readers turning pages.” —Boston Globe

Doc Ebersole lives with the ghost of Hank Williams. Literally.

In 1963, ten years after he may have given Hank the morphine shot that killed him, Doc has lost his license. Living in the red-light district of San Antonio, he performs abortions and patches up the odd knife wound to feed his addiction. But when Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant, appears in the neighborhood in search of Docs services, miraculous things begin to happen. Everyone she meets is transformed for the better, except, maybe, for Hanks angry ghost—who isnt at all pleased to see Doc doing well.

"Synopsis" by , 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.

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