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Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain Paperback – Aug 21 2002
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The art of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was all about his private life, but written in a code as obscure as T.S. Eliot's. Now Charles Cross has cracked the code in the definitive biography Heavier Than Heaven, an all-access pass to Cobain's heart and mind. It reveals many secrets, thanks to 400-plus interviews, and even quotes Cobain's diaries and suicide notes and reveals an unreleased Nirvana masterpiece. At last we know how he created, how lies helped him die, how his family and love life entwined his art--plus, what the heck "Smells Like Teen Spirit" really means. (It was graffiti by Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna after a double date with Dave Grohl, Cobain, and the "over-bored and self-assured" Tobi Vail, who wore Teen Spirit perfume; Hanna wrote it to taunt the emotionally clingy Cobain for wearing Vail's scent after sex--a violation of the no-strings-attached dating ethos of the Olympia, Washington, "outcast teen" underground. Cobain's stomach-churning passion for Vail erupted in six or so hit tunes like "Aneurysm" and "Drain You.")
Cross uncovers plenty of news, mostly grim and gripping. As a teen, Cobain said he had "suicide genes," and his clan was peculiarly defiant: one of his suicidal relatives stabbed his own belly in front of his family, then ripped apart the wound in the hospital. Cobain was contradictory: a sweet, popular teen athlete and sinister berserker, a kid who rescued injured pigeons and laughingly killed a cat, a talented yet astoundingly morbid visual artist. He grew up to be a millionaire who slept in cars (and stole one), a fiercely loyal man who ruthlessly screwed his oldest, best friends. In fact, his essence was contradictions barely contained. Cross, the coauthor of Nevermind: Nirvana, the definitive book about the making of the classic album, puts numerous Cobain-generated myths to rest. (Cobain never lived under a bridge--that Aberdeen bridge immortalized in the 12th song on Nevermind was a tidal slough, so nobody could sleep under it.) He gives the fullest account yet of what it was like to be, or love, Kurt Cobain. Heavier Than Heaven outshines the also indispensable Come As You Are. It's the deepest book about pop's darkest falling star. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
"And there had never quite been a rock star like Kurt Cobain," Cross eulogizes in this celebrity biography. Unfortunately, Cross, former editor of the Rocket, a Northwestern music and entertainment weekly, never proves his claim. Instead, Cobain's story, culled from more than 400 interviews with friends, family and colleagues and exclusive access to Cobain's unpublished diaries, sounds wholly ordinary, from boilerplate adolescent bitterness about his parents' divorce ("I hate Mom, I hate Dad. Dad hates Mom, Mom hates Dad. It simply makes you want to be so sad") and malt liquor, punk rock-adorned angst to the tawdry details of his drug addiction. "Even in this early stage of his career, Kurt had already begun the process of retelling his own story in a manner that formed a separate self," writes Cross as he carefully dispels some of Cobain's self-made myths, including claims of living under a bridge, "tales... about his constant abuse at the hands of Aberdeen's rednecks" and harboring an aversion to fame. The many unenlightening observations are often painted thick with sensationalism; other times, Cross trawls the bottom for sources whose credibility and relevance are dubious at best. (For instance, he interviews Cobain's drug-addicted ex-babysitter, Cali, and some of her girlfriends, yielding a depressing she-said-he-said of Kurt's final days.) Conspiracy theorists will speculate about the conditions under which Cross gained access to Cobain's private journals. Complete with gossip and meticulous references, the biography will catch the devotees, though, like junk food, it may leave them feeling unnourished. 16 pages b&w photos. (Aug. 15) Forecast: Released on the 10th anniversary of Come As You Are and with radio giveaways, this book will sell well.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I recommend reading this book about his suicide. Objectively. Then reading a book about his murder. Objectively.
In a means that is almost mesmerizing, Heavier Than Heaven allows the reader into the mind or Kurt Cobain with flowing text, and interesting stories and facts about his life. As intriguing as they are, these points are accompanied and strengthened with straight excerpts from his many countless journals written throughout his life. What makes this such an incredible account of a life is that it is completely thorough from front to back and reaches all corners of the private and complicated life of Kurt Cobain, and not just the issues surrounding his marriage to Courtney Love and his eventual death - whether it was a suicide or not.
I don't want to argue about what I believe was the case with Kurt Cobain's death; I am here, merely, to tell of my account with Charles Cross's biography of this artist. What Cross has done in this piece of work is something that I found to be absolutely revealing and it left me awestruck on a many occasions and unable to put it down.
Nirvana is easily my favorite band of all time and there is no question how controversial his life was. Cross finely examines this in 'Heavier than Heaven.' Cobain's life is dark, but in a way, it's almost that you can see where he could have made it better. After reading, I realized there were many situations where Kurt did it to himself. So I developed a sense of, well, he has his problems, but chooses to not go on.
Surprisingly, after years later of research and thorough study of Cobain's life and death, doing research papers and none such, it's been claimed that Cross' book is very falisified. Either way, the book has it's values, where you can find information that is really interesting, not on just Kurt, but on Nirvana as well.
There are some chapters where I am surprised and wonder how Cross knew of it, but I guess that might explains the mishaps in the writing.
The book is the best biography for Kurt's life, not his murder, and I would love to pick it up and read it again, some time. It's a good book to have and Cross is a fine author.
For a Nirvana fanatic, it's necessary, but for anyone else, I say once again, 'to each is own.'
THE major malfunction die-hard Cobain-lovers endure is not accepting how susceptibly soulless their idol was, mentally AND physically. I read through reviewers' complaints who-like people who're fanatical about something-decidedly didn't read HTH, just misused the reviews to push their agenda of Cobain-worship, which opposes Cobain's culpableness for his indictments in HTH. I cannot tolerate in the slightest those "reviewers" who deride HTH's validity based on allegations that research was "questionable", or Love dictated most of the book's information from "e-mails". That fraud's plain derogatory!!!! If one goes to the sources appendix, e-mails from Love appear only handfuls of times, with the information's bulk coming from face-to-face interviews with dozens and dozens of independent people. Actually, Cross dictates Love as commendable for watching out for Cobain. It's humiliatingly clear what those saps are experiencing: chronic inability to confess Cobain was FLAWED AS HELL, coming from abjectly romanticizing dependency on Cobain. Ghastly impressionable people suffer this when needily affixing themselves to figures in subservient ways.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a very readable bio of a complex and disturbed personality. Well written. "One of the most moving and revealing books ever written about a rock star" - L.A Times. Read morePublished 17 months ago by mocha
great condition w/o paying alot, and its COBAIN, that is allPublished 19 months ago by starr cobain
A must read for any nirvana's fan, all the details of personal and not to personal events
Thank you !
Cross obviously worked very hard when researching and writing this book. Helped me see new light on the genius that was Kurt Cobain. Read morePublished on June 23 2014 by Derrick Doell
A great and well written book. The author offers great insight and research in telling this compelling and fascinating story. I didn't want it to end. A wonderful read.Published on May 4 2014 by mattrock
I love Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. I didn't knew if the book would be good because of all the negative reviews about it. Read morePublished on Aug. 1 2013 by Dalek
This book was good but you know that Mr. Cross is great friends with Courtney so are we really getting the truth here??? Read morePublished on May 24 2011 by Tanya
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