Review: Heavier Than Heaven by Charles R. Cross


Title: Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

Author: Charles R. Cross

Publisher: Sceptre (28 December 2006)

Source: Loaned by brother

Rating: Recommended Read


Goodreads Summary

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


Hello and Assalamualaikum! Heavier Than Heaven is a biography written by Charles R. Cross about the infamous Kurt Cobain and like my review for The Monsters by Dorothy Hoobler I will not put any ratings (I think I won’t put any ratings if its a non-fiction book… now that I think about it).

As a whole I liked how the writing was simple and easy for me to understand and grasp. The author didn’t use any fancy smchancy words to fluff up the narration and left the narration to speak for itself.

The author wrote Kurt’s life starting from how his parents met up to his untimely suicide where there are gaps in the story-line but as a whole it encompasses important dates and people that shaped Kurt both as a person and the grunge persona we all know today.

There are a few problems I faced when reading this book of which I just cannot turn a blind eye to and the problems are:

  1. The book is heavily biased in favor towards Courtney Love. It isn’t as apparent in the first half of the book (probably because Kurt hasn’t met with Courtney yet) but it is glaringly obvious in the second half. The way the author portrayed Courtney was as if everything from her drug problem to her anger issues was all Kurt’s fault. It was as if Courtney Love is the grunge version of Mother Theresa in this book which I find HIGHLY DOUBTFUL.
  2. This is the MAIN PROBLEM I had with this book and that was when the author took creative license up to a whole new level and decided to put his own rendition of how Kurt’s suicide played out. He described what was in Kurt’s mind, how many cigarettes he smoked, how many sips of beer Kurt drank down to how and why Kurt left the suicide note. This is not cool on so many levels.

In conclusion, Heavier Than Heaven is a book I would recommend if you want to have a light introduction to Kurt Cobains life but be warned that you must read said book with a grain of salt and not entirely believe what was written. Honestly if it wasn’t because of the second problem stated above I was more than willing to just dismiss the bias that existed in this book.


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