Ghost Stories

I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive

Steve Earle

Fans of Texas   singer/songwriter Earle know that he can tell a story in a three-minute song,   but with his debut novel (after the story collection Doghouse Roses), he   proves that he can successfully sustain plot and character through a   full-length work. Doc has lost his license to practice medicine but still   tends to the whores, victims and/or perpetrators of street crime, and   occasional unwanted pregnancy in San Antonio’s South Presa corridor. Doc is   haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams (he might have had a hand in Hank’s   journey to the grave), and most of the proceeds from his illicit medical   practice go to support his own heroin habit. Then a Mexican girl seeking to   terminate a pregnancy is brought to his room. Because Graciela bleeds   profusely after the procedure, Doc moves her into his room. Soon she   insinuates herself into his life and his medical practice, and Doc is feeling   the call of the needle much less frequently. While Graciela herself is slow   to heal, the patients she touches seem to mend as if by miracle, eventually   bringing Doc and the other residents at the boardinghouse unwanted attention   from both the church and the law. VERDICT 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 Reviews

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