Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Inspired by the volume of coverage of the 10th anniversary of Kurt Cobain, I've been re-reading Charles R. Cross's 'Heavier Than Heaven,' his superb biography of Cobain. Returning to it after a few years, I recall it's one of the best rock bios I've read -- a tragic tale, of course, but one told with insight, solid reporting and without judgment. Cross devotes a great deal of space to dissecting Cobain's childhood in Aberdeen, Wash., a tiny, depressed logging town. It's a perfect portrait of rural desolation. He interviewed more than 400 people and had access to Cobain's journals, and does a stunning job of bringing Kurt to life. He's both the hero and villain of his own tale, a kid whose world was ruined by his parents' acrimonious divorce and who straddled the fine line between art and insanity. "Heaven" is not a light read, but it's a strange and resonant one, even if you weren't a huge fan of Nirvana. A lot of message board posts, etc. I've surfed recently like to either classify Cobain as a martyred, troubled genius or a slacker loser who offed himself. What if he was both?

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