Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

More to Say than Songs Allow

Critics love I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, the debut novel by veteran songwriter Steve Earle

August 19, 2011 Steve Earle, a former Nashville songwriter, has already received bountiful recognition for his wide range of artistic occupations, including songwriter, playwright, and actor. With the publication of his new book, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive—released in conjunction with an album of the same name—he’s now earning accolades as a novelist.

The books centers on Doc Ebersole, an ex-physician heroin addict, who lives on the fringe of Texas society and performs illegal abortions for prostitutes. Thanks to a dose of magic realism, the book’s protagonist receives visits from the ghost of Hank Williams (whose last recorded song gives the novel its title) and eventually befriends an angelic Mexican girl, who helps him overcome his addiction. Although the book is not a memoir, Earle readily admits in an interview with Riverfront Times that his depiction of Doc relies heavily on his own experience as a drug addict.

The Dallas Observer praises the book as “compelling, and very telling,” and the New York Post calls it “a redemption story with Earle’s lyrical prose.” In reference to Earle’s personal experiences, The Boston Globe notes that the novel “makes a good case that writing workshops aren’t the only places to learn how to tell stories.” The chorus of praise is not universal, of course: ABC News argues that, by the end, Earle’s story has “become downright silly.” Nevertheless, Earle maintains a seasoned perspective when it comes to fans and critics: “I’ve kept enough of them who want to see what I’m going to do next. I’m pretty proud of that,” he told Riverfront Times. Earle currently lives in New York City, where he is working on his second play, hosting a radio station, rehearsing with his new band, the Dukes and Duchesses (which includes his wife, Allison Moorer). For more media coverage, click on the links below:

~an interview with NPR;

~an article in USA Today about Earle’s career as an artist;

~a review of the book in the Minneapolis Star Tribune;

~an interview with Oregon Live;

~a review from Washington Post;

~a feature in The Dallas Observer;

~an article about Earle’s career from American Songwriter;

~a feature in St. Louis Today;

~a review in The News Star from Monroe, Louisiana;

~a feature in Times Colonist from Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada:

~a review of the album of the same name in The Chicago Tribune;

~a review of his album in theLos Angeles Times;

~Chapter 16’s review.

For more updates on Tennessee authors, please visit Chapter 16’s News & Notes page, here