Jessie's Reviews > Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

Heavier Than Heaven by Charles R. Cross
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's review
May 08, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 50-book-challenge-2011, 5-stars, non-fiction
Read from May 19 to 21, 2011

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 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.

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Reading Progress

05/19/2011 page 38
05/19/2011 page 54
14.0% "I have a feeling this is not going to end well...."
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