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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2011 Steve Earle (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“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, New York Times best-selling author)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The Down and Out get a spiritual renewal

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Steve Earle's voice and twang really drew me in. This is a good story of how the lost make their way in a hard-scrabble existence. The characters are believable and while their actions are questionable, you can it is all they can do to get by.

What did you like best about this story?

I really liked Steve Earle's narration....his pace, twang, expressions, etc. were very good.

What does Steve Earle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I find that audiobooks greatly enhance the written word with tone of voice, pacing, rate of delivery, volume, etc. The book is "performed" for the listener and Steve Earle did this very well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Robin
  • Huntingtown, MD, United States
  • 12-06-12

Best Audible Book I've Listen to Yet

It takes a lot for me to give five stars all the way around, but this book did it for me.

At first I was scratching my head at the selection of the narrator (not realizing it was also the author) because of his voice and slight slur. But the voice--and the slur--really captured the mood and the character of Doc, the main character. Not to gush, but...Steve Earle was awesome!

The story had sweet moments without being sweet. It had tragic moments without being a tragedy. The narrative carried me along on a wave and sometimes Earle sneaked in a surprising phrase or juxtaposition that just made me belly laugh.

Know what I didn't like? It was just too short. Well, not really. It was long enough to tell the story effectively. But I just wasn't ready to say good-bye to the characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Authentic southern voice tells authentic story

What other book might you compare I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive to and why?

Come back to the five and dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean....1950s/1970s Southern states, and a hero (James Dean) that has died.

Which scene was your favorite?

My favorite scene is the one where Marge, Dallas, and Graciela get excited about the coming visit of Jacky Kennedy.

Any additional comments?

Lively characters are set in a dramatic context. The roles of Doc, Manny, Dallas and especially Graciela, give me a feeling of the 1950s/1960s at the seamy side of life. What about a junkie doctor who does abortions, and is visited by the late Hank Williams in his weakest moments? It may sound far fetched, but Steve Earle makes it into an authentic slice of southern life as it might have been.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Darby
  • Missoula, MT, United States
  • 01-14-12

Expect to be a fly on the wall in this story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes I would and did, the book held my interest from the first paragraph with the totally real characters and places, it put me there with the story.

What did you like best about this story?

The people with their real highs and lows, plenty to be kept wondering what will happen

What about Steve Earle’s performance did you like?

His Texan drawl fit perfectly and the book flowed as natural as as any I've ever heard.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

I hope there are more books to follow from Steve Earle

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Steve Earle's talents are endless -- a treasure!

I've long considered Steve Earle one of our greatest living writers, but until now I had only done so in terms of his brilliant body of work as a singer/songwriter and musician. Sure, I'd read 'Doghouse Roses,' his collection of short stories, and I was highly impressed with it. But only now -- after reading his debut novel, 'I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive' -- has his vast talents as a writer of prose come fully into focus. What Earle has accomplished in this novel is no small feat: an unwaveringly empathetic view of the poor, the dispossessed, the addicted, and the lost; a cast of characters both living and dead, all equally believable and important to the narrative; a melding of old world and new world religion, of Catholicism and native belief systems; a deeply complex understanding of the fine line between morality and sin; and breathtaking portrayals of beauty and violence, of love and loss, of addiction and recovery. What's more, this is a book that must be LISTENED to. Whether you are a fan of audiobooks or not, you would be doing yourself and this novel a disservice to merely read its words. Earle's narration is beyond powerful, slipping seamlessly inside and outside of his characters, delivering his prose with force and grace and not the slightest hint of arrogance, and -- most wonderfully -- occasionally singing the words to the songs of Hank Williams (whose ghost haunts the novel's protagonist). This is an all-around ABSOLUTE MUST of a listen.

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  • japetunia
  • San Francisco Bay Area, CA USA
  • 01-09-15

Interesting story. Great performance!

If you like Elmore Leonard, you'll like this. Excellent reading by the author. The man can write almost as well as he sings.

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Very interesting and entertaining.

The author did a good job writing this story and he narrates it, which I enjoyed. A lot of cursing, but that aside, I give this book a thumb's up! The story has a unique tale to tell and brings history into it which made it seem very real.

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  • Denise
  • WATKINSVILLE, GA, United States
  • 11-18-13

One of my favorite books.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have recommended it to friends.

What other book might you compare I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive to and why?

It's unique - I think it stands by itself.

Have you listened to any of Steve Earle’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I've always enjoyed Steve Earle's music, but it was a real pleasure to discover his writing talent.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

I purchased this book AFTER I'd already listened to it twice for free as an audio loan from my library. It's like an old friend that's good at making you laugh until you cry - you just want them close by.

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  • Britta
  • Oakland, CA, United States
  • 06-06-12

Amazing! Couldn't stop listening.

If you could sum up I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive in three words, what would they be?

Refreshing<br/>Authentic<br/>Spiritual

Which character – as performed by Steve Earle – was your favorite?

Manny was awesome. Nothing quite like an enormous Mexican dope dealer with a heart of gold and a strict code of ethics.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Renee
  • FORT COLLINS, CO, United States
  • 09-02-12

My new favorite narrator....

Would you listen to I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive again? Why?

Yes, it is beautiful, sad and lyrical.

What did you like best about this story?

How well the author captured the different personalities and brought them to life.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • P.Lean
  • 01-11-15

Love that Texas drawl.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes because I cannot imagine any better way of accessing the book than having this author read it to you.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Doc was my favourite character because he was so complex but I loved Hank and almost all the others too.

Which character – as performed by Steve Earle – was your favourite?

Doc was my favourite again but I enjoyed the singing Hank very much.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Unfinished business.

Any additional comments?

I have been recommending this to everyone but as an audiobook because I feel this is the superior way of hearing this book with the actual Mr.Earle reading. Phenomenal.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • 04-10-14

Much better than a rock star project

If you could sum up I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive in three words, what would they be?

Give it a try if you like true detective .I am a big Steve Earle fan. Having said that I like the Rolling Stones too. I'm not sure I would rush to buy a novel written by Mick Jagger. Which made me nervous about falling for the unquestioning rock fan approach of buying this novel. I'm surprised and a little bit humbled have to say that all my misgivings were wrong.

Would you recommend I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive to your friends? Why or why not?

It's not the greatest story I've ever come across. Against that it has a totally convincing portrayal of a small impoverished but incredibly spiritual and loving world in an utterly hostile if not dangerous location in a part of Texas none of us would ever want to visit nevermind live in.

What does Steve Earle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

In one word his "drawl" I assume it's authentic Austin Texas. At any rate its brilliant

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Anyone can be redeemed.

Any additional comments?

You never listened to the music of Hank Williams - you should

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  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-19-17

my favorite audio book yet

loved all of it - the characters, the story, Steve Earles narration, I couldn't stop listening. one of those books that makes you feel sad when its over, like you've lost something.