By Jeff Giles
Updated May 11, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

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Doc used to be a real doctor, but by the time we meet him in San Antonio in 1963, he’s a gruff, morphine-addicted hack performing abortions and other illegal surgeries — and being haunted by the ghost of a former patient and fellow junkie, Hank Williams. Earle (a hell of a songwriter himself) has written a deft, big-spirited novel about sin, faith, redemption, and the family of man. Some of I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive‘s characters tilt toward cliché — the angelic Mexican girl who tries to save Doc, the lunatic priest who tries to destroy him — but you keep reading and you keep believing. B+

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I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

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