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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,177 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Steve Earle Narrator: Steve Earle Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2011 ISBN: 9781470802554
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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. Since he lost his license to practice medicine, his morphine habit isn’t as easy to support, so Doc 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 his 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 perhaps 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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Full of music history and magical realism.”

    O, the Oprah Magazine

  • “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 twenty-first-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.”

    Howard Frank Mosher, author of On Kingdom Mountain and Waiting for Teddy Williams

  • “Outsider artists like Steve Earle bring a breath of fresh air to the literary world. I just wish they’d come around more often. I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive is richly imagined and handily crafted—a mighty fine piece of storytelling.”

    Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls Rising and Devil’s Dream

  • “Steve 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?”

    Ron Rash, author of Serena and One Foot in Eden

  • “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.”

    Thomas Cobb, author of Crazy Heart

  • “In this spruce debut novel hard-core troubadour Earle ponders miracles, morphine, and mortality in 1963 San Antonio…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.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “At once gritty and tender, this is an arresting story of pulling oneself back from the precipice and finding the beauty in the darkest of corners. Fans will seek it out, but readers don’t have to be familiar with Earle’s musical career to fall under its spell.”

    Library Journal

  • “A thematically ambitious debut novel that draws from the writer’s experience yet isn’t simply a memoir in the guise of fiction…Richly imagined.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • AnAmazon Top 100 Book of 2011
  • AnAmazon Best Book of the Month: May2011

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerry | 2/18/2014

    " A gritty novel written by a gritty musician. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 2/7/2014

    " Wow, what a crazy book. i loved it. again, for me, a glimpse into a very unfamiliar world: down and out urban subsistance. absolutely remarkable characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 manfred | 2/4/2014

    " kurze review auf meinem blog "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 2/4/2014

    " Steve Earle is so dang talented! This was definitely a page turner. I had a few quibbles, but nothing too serious. I loved his characters and the way they talked. It's delightful. My positive feelings were no doubt enhanced by listening to the audiobook, which was read by the author. Since I already love his voice from his songs, I'm sure it helped me like this book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jim Bronec | 2/1/2014

    " I wanted to like this book so much but just didn't. Steve Earle is a wonderful songwritter and musician. He also had an interesting concept for a story. A man dealing with his heroin addiction while haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams. Then a young and mystical woman comes into his life. But the writting is too simplistic. It almost felt like juvenile fiction but with obviously very adult themes. It just didn't work for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kirby | 1/27/2014

    " I actually would have went with 4.5 stars, but rounded up... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marty Elrod | 1/20/2014

    " I love you Steve Earle but i did not like this book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Damon | 1/19/2014

    " Steve you are a great song writer, your role in the Wire was great...This book. Not so much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 1/13/2014

    " Steve Earle did a wonderful job, a book to enjoy because it's just good, not amazing, not bad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan Jenks | 12/26/2013

    " If you know and like Steve Earle's music you'll find familar territory here. Typically raw and poetic in equal measure the book shows why he's such a well respected enfant terrible. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Trinette | 12/23/2013

    " Impressive writing by singer/songwriter Steve Earle. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel d. | 12/6/2013

    " Maybe it wasn't the right time to read this particular book. It was a slow starter, and usually i'm o.k. with that but i was forced to give up around 70 pages in. i feel like a failure. i'll try again at some point, but with the line-up i've got on my shelves right now, it was hard to be patient. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 11/4/2013

    " Magic realism Steve Earle style! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chad Bewley | 10/7/2013

    " I liked this book a lot. The story did not go where I thought it was headed in the first 30 pages. Highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shanna | 10/4/2013

    " A good story told in a sometimes tedious fashion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 BridgetT | 7/11/2013

    " found myself wanting to get back to this book every spare minute. a very haunting, and moving (if at times uncomfortable) story. i'd describe it as 'hard hitting, and mystical'. i'll remember this one for a long time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynn | 3/15/2013

    " It is not the biography of Hank Williams that I had been told it would be, but it was a fascinating book to read. Mr. Earle wrote a most vivid picture of down and out in San Antonio. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeannine | 2/16/2013

    " This was an audio book. There were a lot of accents and Spanish that might have been different to read. Moral ambiguity, in a good way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Phnx | 8/10/2011

    " If you like racist stereotypes, transphobia and pervert old man fantasies, go ahead. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Debra | 7/11/2011

    " I wanted to like this....but I just couldn't. Guess I will stick with Steve Earle's music. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Chris | 6/28/2011

    " It's no "Ellis Unit One". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marla | 5/14/2011

    " A drug addicted doctor haunted by Hank William's ghost, two lesbians running a rooming house and a Mexican girl with stigmata and healing powers...all set in the background of the Kennedy assassination I doubt you've read anything like it. I couldn't seem to put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 5/13/2011

    " Different & fairly fine in spite of the magical Mexican... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Peter | 5/9/2011

    " Disappointing as much as I wished to enjoy. Characters underdeveloped and the whole ghost thing did not work. After reading Bolano my standards may be too high, "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pam | 3/27/2011

    " I hope Earle doesn't give up his singing career to write. Not crazy about this book. Reminds me of Tarrantino. It's that kind of strange. The good thing about this book, I kept hearing the song in my head and that was good:) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brenda | 3/6/2011

    " I am a huge fan of Steve Earle's music and of his big life on this planet. He clearly knows whereof he writes on addiction, hitting bottom and finding hope. "

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About the Author

Steve Earle is a singer-songwriter, actor, activist, and the author of the story collection Doghouse Roses. He has released more than a dozen critically acclaimed albums, including such Grammy winners as The Revolution Starts Now, Washington Square Serenade, and Townes. He has appeared on film and television, with roles in The Wire and Treme.