There's something endearingly old-fashioned about Steve Earle's debut novel I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
, a tale with a straightforward beginning, middle, and end, punctuated by spectral showdowns and heavenly healings. While it will likely appeal most to music fans eager to see how this iconoclastic singer/songwriter (and author of the 2001 short story collection Doghouse Roses
) will fare in the literary sweepstakes, I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
deserves praise for the way it captures both the squalor and the community spirit of a down-and-out enclave populated with lively, believable characters. That one of them is dead only adds to the festivities.
And make no mistake, this story is a festive one, in the way that empty streets littered with confetti and beer bottles are festive. The broken souls who inhabit the South Presa Strip -...
Beyond the Book
Speculation and myth swirl around accounts of 29-year-old country music legend Hank Williams's death in the back seat of a Cadillac on January 1, 1953. For years, Charles Carr, the only person who knew for sure what had happened that snowy day in the hinterlands of West Virginia, never talked about it.
A mere 17 at the time, Charles Carr was home on vacation from Auburn University on December 30, 1952, when his father, the owner of a limousine service and an acquaintance of Hank's, asked Charles if he would drive the country singer from his home in Montgomery, Alabama to a New Year's Eve gig in Charleston, West Virginia and then to a New Year's Day concert in Canton, Ohio. Charles agreed, but, after a late start and with a freezing rainstorm moving in, decided to stop for the...