lately i’ve been on a reading kick of memoirs and biographies. a few months back i picked up Kurt Cobain’s Journals. It was basically a big book where they had basically taken his Pee Chee journals and copied them into a book. it was a fascinating look into a beautiful, yet deranged and broken mind. i mean Cobain was sick. his demented and warped sense of humor played very dark to me in those pages, yet i still remain fascinated by this tortured soul. so i’m walking through the library the other day and i see this book right by the journals.
so being a sucker for a good story, i checked it out. Cobain’s life reads like fiction. Charles Cross gives a detailed life of a happy boy who’s perfect life is derailed by divorce and dysfunction. these cataclysmic events lead Kurt down a path of isolation and what i would call mental illness. Cross did over 400 interviews and scoured Cobain’s journals for over 4 years to write what i would say is a very complete work. i definitely hurt for Kurt. the book details his life as a young man in Aberdeen and Montesano. Cross goes into such detail, you would think he had been watching all this go on. the book gives headway to some of the myths that Cobain perpetuated about himself like selling his step-dad’s guns to buy his first guitar and how his first concert was Black Flag when really it was Sammy Hagar and Quarterflash. it talks about his Olympia days and the people he lived his life with. we see into his relationship with Krist Novolselic in some detail, as well as the revolving door of drummers that moved through Nirvana. The last few chapters of the book are dedicated to telling the story of Kurt’s relationship with Courtney Love and his other mistress he liked to call “heroine”. the book tells of him using unhuman amounts of the drug and actually dying on several occasions only to be brought back to life by his wife or friends. one of the most telling things about this book is the constant foreshadowing of Cobain’s own deathwish. at fourteen he mentions to one of his friends that he is going to become a rock star, change the world and then kill himself. he’ll go out in a blaze of glory. how prophetic were those words. Cross does take some liberty in “creating” Kurt’s final hours of which noone really knows what happened, and in that instance the book becomes somewhat fictional, but i didn’t mind as it drew me in.
many critics of the book claim it is too pro-Courtney and that it just rehashes much of Michael Azerrad’s 1993 biography Come As You Are. i will have to read that one to see what i think, but as a scholarly work that delves deep into the shattered human that was Cobain, Heavier than Heaven is an interesting and enjoyable read.
this post is part of water cooler wednesday over at Randy Elrod’s blog Ethos