I'll Never Get Out of This World AliveI’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

who’d a thunk it… a really great tale of a junkie abortionist, a young mexican immigrant, Hank William’s ghost, a hulking drug dealer, and San Antonio 1963–utterly fabulous.

i listened to the audio version of this tale, and i’m glad i did–the reader did a pitch-perfect job. something about the cadence of his reading, the music of down-and-out, the slow lazy delivery of a man who’s not in a hurry, cause there’s nowhere to go… perfect. [note: on a later re-listen, i discovered that the author read the book. duh.]

the story itself is also something not much seen in litrachaa these days. when just about every book one opens contains a Beautiful (or Handsome), Intelligent, Monied, The Only One Who Can Save the World blah blah blah protag, it’s genuinely refreshing to see a book that opens with a broken-down junkie waking up and thinking only of his next fix. he’s a low-life, for sure, but he’s not human garbage, and this isn’t some Chuck Pahlaniuk po-mo tale of titillating perversion. he’s just a man who took a wrong turn into an addiction that is destroying him.

he’s quite refreshingly aware of all he’s doing to himself, and if he should forget, the ghost of Hank Williams is there to remind him.

every character in this book, on either side of the Big Divide between living and dead, is pretty free of illusion or self-deception. these folk know who they are and where they land on the pecking order. their self-assessments are done without excessive navel-gazing: they are what they are. they don’t judge, they see; and this is quite lovely.

weird to say, but there’s almost a wholesomeness about them.

i’m off now to see what other volumes this author has written, and devour them all.

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