Cobain Unseen book review

I was given this to read by the lovely rizza. I read it quickly and intensely. Next thing I know I was typing up this review.

 

 

 

Charles R. Cross (Heavier than Heaven) makes a return to a familiar
topic with Cobain Unseen. In this meshing of photos, journal excerpts
and bits of memorabilia, Cross attempts to bring further insight into
the life of one of rock and roll’s most mysterious and beloved front
men, Kurt Cobain. This is not your typical biography. Cross doesn’t
just fill the book with the typical biographical information followed
by some home pictures; no instead he goes much, much deeper into the
life and art of Kurt. Readers are treated to very entertaining bits
and stories from Cobain’s early life and through his rise to fame. The
book’s 154 pages are filled with hundreds of beautiful pictures: shots
of Cobain as a kid, on stage, even quiet family moments. The images
are wonderful counterparts for each other. Even better are the
glimpses into Kurt’s creativity, given to us through paintings and letters done in
his own hand. There is even a CD of the troubled singer reading from
pages of his journal.

Cross chooses a scrapbook-style for Cobain Unseen, and it really seems
fitting as we learn more about Cobain’s collections, passions and
artistic endeavors. The writing is on point and unencumbered by the
traditional style of most biographies. The author has no need for an
over the top portrayal of his subject, and this results in writing that
is raw and real. It feels authentic to Kurt and parallels the style of
writing in his songs. The book uses extensive research and interview
materials in a quick and entertaining manner that at no point feels
clunky or wordy. Cross of course has the benefit of having written
Heavier than Heaven before this. Cobain Unseen isn’t necessarily for
those who are coming at Cobain, or Nirvana, for the first time. With
this attempt, Cross has no need for the usual information. He doesn’t
need (or want to) introduce us to the people in Kurt’s life. He
focuses on giving the reader a new view into the mind, the creativity,
and even the madness, that was Kurt Cobain. He chooses to go for an in
depth look at the pieces of history that came together to fuel and
create Kurt’s unique personality. This means newer readers may be left
to their own devices to understand or figure out the simpler of facts
and stories involving Kurt. That fact should not hinder a reader new
to the Cobain story from enjoying the book.

These pieces and intimate recreations are punctuated with the author’s
thoughts and research. It presents the life of the artist through
never before seen photos, chaotically scribbled notes/lyrics, precious
mementos and art. These are the real gems of Cobain Unseen. The almost
dizzying array of personal photos such as Cobain and his daughter, the
concerts, or even the shots as a baby and young child are unseen
glimpses into the rock legend. We are given views of his entire
emotional spectrum. Some match the raw and unrefined moments
of his lyrics. They run the range from blurry and untouched to glossy
magazine photo shoots. Included are slices of Cobain’s interests,
which are as odd and mystifying as the singer was. The odd dolls,
masks, monkeys, and the love (shared with Courtney) of heart-shaped
boxes, carved-up drawing figures and graffiti. One of the best parts
of the book are the assorted fold-outs and removable items: ads for
Nirvana, a copy of Kurt’s high school diploma, a CD of old songs,
blurry letters, X-rays, a scrawled handwritten draft of “Smells Like
Teen Spirit,” and even a handmade Thanksgiving day card made by a
young Kurt. This helps ground the reader and the life of the singer
who took his own life.

The diary like style employed by Cross immerses the reader in the
world that was Kurt Cobain. Cobain Unseen feels less like a biography,
and more like a collage of Cobain’s lifetime. Chaotic, pieced together
moments and scraps perhaps not all that different than the ones Kurt
himself glued and pieced together. If you’ve read Heavier Than Heaven
or any of the other books on Kurt and Nirvana, you will still want to
buy this book. As a whole, the book is a great for any fan of Nirvana
or even someone who just loves music.

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One Response to Cobain Unseen book review

  1. Boink says:

    Only good for rare art collections side, rest is sux.. Less infos, Sorry.

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