Steve Earle

Steve Earle knows a thing or two about addiction, and he’s never hesitant to share what he’s been through. As a musician, he’s penned songs about it, including “South Nashville Blues” and “CCKMP.” As a public figure, he’s opens up to every journalist he meets. Even as a part-time actor on The Wire, he played an addiction counselor. It’s only natural that his debut novel, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (Houghton Mifflin, $26), features a morphine addict hero. As in his songs, Earle uses rich, raw language to paint a sun-baked picture of San Antonio in the early '60s. There, based on the MD alleged to be the last person Hank Williams saw before he died, the ghost-haunted Doc Ebersole aches for dope and practices abortions to support his habit. Things take a turn toward magical realism when Doc grows fond of a patient, Graciela, and strange miracles begin occurring on the South Pesa strip. Earle doesn't pretend to be Faulkner, but his book is a quick, compelling page-turner full of complex characters set in a fully realized place. It's also a big advance from his 2001 short-story collection, Doghouse Roses. Where that spilled over with Earle’s extroverted persona, he chooses here to inhabit his character’s heads rather than dwell in his own. (He returns to play the Moore on June 9.) BRIAN J. BARR

Wed., May 25, 7 p.m., 2011

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