Jeremy Garber's Reviews > I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle
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Jan 24, 2012

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Read from January 24 to 26, 2012

Steve Earle’s first novel, set in San Antonio in 1963, is a sweet but flawed story about drugs, heroism, race, spirituality and religion, and ornery Texans. The protagonist, Doc, is a former physician with a serious heroin problem who makes a living providing illegal abortions to the outcasts of society. Compounding his difficulties is the continuing mysterious presence of the ghost of Hank Williams, who may have been killed by Doc providing his last dose of smack. Doc’s nosedive flophouse existence takes a sharp turn when he encounters a saintly Mexican teenager with the power to heal.

Earle’s dialogue is amusing and his powers of description effective. You might read Earle’s book more sympathetically if you consider the characters as archetypes rather than human beings – they’re a little cartoony to be the latter but work fairly well as the former. Unfortunately the ending (w/o spoilers) tends toward the stereotypical portrayal of evil institutional religion vs. good homegrown spirituality, but it’s worth a good read on an overly hot afternoon with a PBR at hand.
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