Denise Morland, September 07, 2011
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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.