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 - addicts, drug dealers, ...
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