After reading two depressing biographies about dead rock stars, I'm starting to question my own sanity.
I was absolutely obsessed with Nirvana when I w...moreAfter reading two depressing biographies about dead rock stars, I'm starting to question my own sanity.
I was absolutely obsessed with Nirvana when I was in middle school. By the time I entered ninth grade, The Smashing Pumpkins would be my favorite band. But as someone who came of age in the mid to late 90s, there was no way to disown Nirvana completely. Their music wasn't just the soundtrack to my life for a couple of years. It was a part of my life in a way that I don't think any other band has been. There are bands I've listened to a lot more than Nirvana over the years-I've probably listened to Pearl Jam's Ten hundreds of times since I first bought it in 94-but I don't think I would put any of them in the same category as Nirvana. Their music is more than just music, even to the casual fan who can remember 1994. It's something that is so ingrained in our psyche that even 17 years later, someone like me would even bother to read Heavier Than Heaven.
I read Michael Azzerad's "official" Nirvana biography, Come As You Are, a number of years ago, and was expecting this book to be more of the same. While Come As You Are is a satisfactory biography of Nirvana, it was written when Kurt Cobain was alive, and really doesn't do much more than scratch the surface when it comes to things like Kurt's childhood and his drug use. Heavier Than Heaven does refer to Come As You Are a couple of times, almost as if it is asking the reader to spot the differences. The differences are many. So many, in fact, that at times I wondered if I had read about some of these things in Come As You Are and had just completely forgotten about them.
I don't think that any one book or piece of writing on Kurt can really tell the whole story, but I think that Heavier Than Heaven tells a lot of it. I would also recommend reading Chuck Klosterman's essay "Oh, the Guilt" if you are looking for additional insight. Ironically, this essay compares Kurt Cobain to David Koresh, but it touches on a lot of the factors that probably ultimately led to Kurt's suicide.
I think I'm going to read something a little less serious now.(less)
I bought this book in hardcover when it initially came out in 2001. It has languished on my shelf ever since. I tried to read it a few times before, b...moreI bought this book in hardcover when it initially came out in 2001. It has languished on my shelf ever since. I tried to read it a few times before, but always abandoned it. Normally after something has sat unread on my bookshelf for that long, I'd get rid of it, but I always felt like one day I would read it.
I was a latecomer to Jeff Buckley's music, in the sense that I didn't really start listening to him until after his death. Prior to that, I knew who he was, but that was about it. I finally heard him for the first time in 99, and I was completely blown away by his voice. I bought Grace shortly thereafter, and it's been part of the soundtrack to my life ever since.
Ultimately, I finished this book with more questions than answers. It left me with a deep feeling of sadness, which probably isn't helped by the fact that I'm currently listening to Jeff's unfinished second album.
I am glad I finally read this book. In the end, I found it more sad than insightful, but I think the author did the best he could, considering the subject matter. He chose two very enigmatic men to write about. Both of them liked to stretch the truth, and they both even went as far as making up stories when the truth of the matter was much more mundane. (less)
I don't really think it will come as a surprise to anyone reading this review that this book is really meant for people who are either serious Nirvana...moreI don't really think it will come as a surprise to anyone reading this review that this book is really meant for people who are either serious Nirvana fans, or people who used to be, and wanted to read this for nostalgia's sake. I fall into the latter category, and actually probably would not even have bothered reading this at all if someone hadn't picked it up for me.
That said, I did enjoy it a lot. It showed a very human side of Kurt Cobain, and I learned a few things that I either didn't know, or had forgotten about.
Those that called this a "grunge pop-up book" are pretty much on the money. Definitely not for everyone, but the people who this is for will probably enjoy it.(less)
Sort of on the same wavelength as David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, both of whom I love. There were definitely really clever parts, but it didn't...moreSort of on the same wavelength as David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, both of whom I love. There were definitely really clever parts, but it didn't really form a cohesive whole. In the end, it just seemed like a bunch of random stuff. Some of the essays almost seemed like newspaper or magazine articles (like the one about the underground lunchroom at Carlsbad Caverns) and then some of them were more personal stories. I definitely enjoy her writing, but this book needed to be one thing or the other, not both.(less)
In all fairness, it's not really this book's fault that I only gave it three stars. It was extremely well written, but I just really was not all that...moreIn all fairness, it's not really this book's fault that I only gave it three stars. It was extremely well written, but I just really was not all that interested in the subject matter. I knew what it was about going in, so I guess it's my own fault. I am interested to read other books by her, though.(less)
Chuck Klosterman always makes some interesting observations about life in his books. I don't know who else would compare David Koresh to Kurt Cobain....moreChuck Klosterman always makes some interesting observations about life in his books. I don't know who else would compare David Koresh to Kurt Cobain. I don't know how much I really agree with his observations, but I do find them interesting.
Unlike the last book of his I read, Fargo Rock City, this book actually made me want to run out and (re)listen to the bands and albums he mentions. He seriously made me want to listen to ABBA, and I sort of lamented that I only had one album of theirs.
He brings up an interesting point about Weezer's fans disliking every album they put out because they find the songwriting inauthentic (which makes me wonder, if that's true, why they are still Weezer fans, because he also makes the argument that they haven't found the songwriting to be authentic since Pinkerton). Be that as it may, "Pork and Beans" is still a damn catchy song, and sometimes catchiness is important. Not always, but sometimes.
I am definitely planning on reading Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs soon, and I will be all caught up on his books.