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Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain - Charles Cross

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Genre: Biography / Author: Charles Cross / Edition: New Ed / Paperback / 400 Pages / Book is published 2002-06-20 by Sceptre

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    5 Reviews
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      11.02.2014 23:49

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      5/5 for me

      I will say that I used to be a die-hard fan of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain!

      ---WHATS INSIDE?---

      Right, now lets get started on this book!
      Firstly, I would like to say that when I read this book, i was at the stage of when i was a HUGE fan of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, and for starters, I could NOT put this book down. If I was in the bath, i was reading it, if i was on the bus to college, I was reading it, or when i was getting ready for bed? you guessed it! i was reading it.
      Now this book goes through Kurt Cobain's life from when he was a small child, to the day he died, and it explains in detail about his parents divorce, Kurt being homeless, Kurt being a drug addict and of course Kurt being in Nirvana.

      ---RUMOURS OF BAD INFORMATION---

      People have said that the writer, Charles R. Cross, put a lot of completely false information into the book, or information that has not been proven to be true or false, but personally, i did not think any of it sounded too far fetched if i'm honest, so i would dismiss this rumour.
      Of course this is up to you, so please believe whatever you want to in this case.

      ---WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?---

      I have already said that I enjoyed the book, but if i had not been a Nirvana fan, or someone who is interested in the back story of Kurt Cobain, then i would guess that i wouldn't have been dragged in to the book, mainly due to the fact that the life of Kurt Cobain was not really the happiest.
      So yes! I would definitely recommend it as long as you are somewhat of a fan of his music or the man himself!

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      19.11.2012 10:01
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      An interesting look into Kurt Cobain's life

      I quite like having a wonder around HMV and I often leave the shop clutching great finds (such as the turtles film from my childhood on DVD or the latest dance CD's for my brother's birthday). On one trip into HMV last year I ended up buying a few goodies towards Christmas presents and this book for me. I'd not long finished reading a series of books and so I was on the look out for some new reading matter, I couldn't wait to snuggle up with this book and a hot coffee (whilst congratulating myself on being organised enough to have started buying Christmas presents early)!

      ***About the book***
      Heavier than heaven is a biography of Kurt Cobain, written by Charles R. Cross (a music journalist from Seattle).
      The book was first published in 2001 and first published in paperback in 2002 by Hodder and Stoughton.
      As the book is a biography of Kurt Cobain, it quite obviously tells us about the life of the rockstar. The author used diaries and artworks from Cobain, along with medical records, research and interviews with various people to bring us the information in this biography.

      ***The cover***
      The book cover is a little eerie, it features a photograph of Kurt Cobain taken by Micheal Levine. The Ciao picture makes the cover look black and white, but looking at my cover it has more of a spooky greenish tinge to it. The picture has been taken in such a way that it seems Kurt is looking right at you.
      At the top of the cover is the title (in bold lettering) and above this is a quote from Phil Sutcliffe (Q magazine) "Wins immediate entry into the rock lit. pantheon. Five Stars." (this is in a much smaller font than the rest of the writing on the over)
      Sandwiched between the writing, the picture takes up almost the whole of the page.
      At the bottom the cover is the writing; "The biography of Kurt Cobain, Charles R. Cross" (this is all in big, bold writing, some bolder than other parts)
      The back cover has a bit of blurb about the book and six different quotes about the book from various newspapers and magazines.

      ***Price and availability***
      The RRP on the cover of the book is £8.99.
      I found my copy on sale for just £2 at HMV!
      You can find the book on Amazon.com from £6.99 with free delivery, or second hand copies from 1p with a £1.97 delivery charge. The Kindle edition of the book is currently £4.99.

      I think the price I paid for this book is fantastic. I probably would not have paid the £8.99 that is recommended for the book, but this is because I'm a cheap skate! I would happily have paid the Kindle price.

      ***Reading the book and my opinion of it***
      Before I even begin to read the I know I'm going to get something from this book as I'm a fan of rock music, I'm partial to a bit of Nirvana and I love books. If the same things apply to you, you're off to a very good start! If you don't much care about Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, the rock scene or reading biographies then you obviously may need to consider that however glowing my review; purchasing this book could quite possibly be a waste of your time!

      The authors note gives the impression that Charles R. Cross has an interest in Kurt Cobain himself, which I would think you would have to have to be dedicated enough to research and write a book such as this!
      The book begins with a prologue which sets a scene in a hotel room where Courtney Love finds herself reviving Kurt from the first of many drug over doses, from here the books then transports you back to when Kurt was first born and his early family life. I like that the book started with something more unusual and I liked the stark contrast between a rock star's hotel room and over dose and a young boy's happy start in life.

      As you progress through the book Kurt's life begins to get more difficult. The reader is shown how Kurt was troubled from quite a young age, yet we are also told of happy times along the way.
      Most people would associate the name Kurt Cobain with Courtney love (who is a rock star herself, being front woman of the band Hole) and as you would expect, the book tells us details of their meeting, relationship and their daughter Frances Bean Cobain. We are also told about his former relationships too, which I found very interesting.
      The evolution of Nirvana as a band is something I had only limited knowledge of before and this book gave me an insight into how hard Kurt worked on the band to get them to fame as well as telling me about the bands other members and the changes to the line up in the early days of the band.
      The book also tells about Kurt's drug problems, the kind of thoughts he had and his loves and hates.
      The book is bought to a close with Kurt's suicide. Aged just 27 Kurt took his own life and although many people will know this already, the book gave a very good account of what was going on at the time in Kurt's life and inside his head.

      I very much enjoyed this book and found it very interesting. Because the writer had interviewed Kurt's family and friends and also had access to artworks, diaries and medical records, he has been able to build up a very detailed picture of Kurt's life right from the beginnings of a small family through to the untimely death of a rock star.
      The book has detailed source notes which shows where information is from and when interviews were held with certain people.

      ***Overall***
      This book seems a little smaller than many biographies out there, but it does hold much detail. I guess it's never going to be the longest of books when Kurt died so young. I found the book interesting and enjoyable to read. It's the kind of book that makes you want to stay up reading until 1am to see what happens next!
      I would recommend this book to others. I don't think you need to be a Nirvana fan to enjoy the book, but I guess having a love of rock and alternative music would make it more enjoyable to you

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        13.06.2011 11:14
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        Amazing book definite must read

        Heavier Than Heaven than heaven is one of the most amazing biography's I have ever read it is astonishing how accurate this book actually is, it tells the full story from when Kurt Cobain was born and and when he died. I am a big Kurt Cobain / Nirvana fan and I thought I knew a lot about Kurt Cobain's life but when I read this I was certainly proven wrong. It contains so much detail about his life from when he got his first guitar to when his only child Frances Bean Cobain was born. This book is a definite must read for any Kurt Cobain or Nirvana fan. The way the book was written was not biased at all it should both sides of the story's by getting interviews from all kind of different of people. Overall i recommend this book to any person that is remotely intersted in Kurt Cobain or Nirvana

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          23.07.2009 19:24
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          The most detailed biography I've ever read

          I'll get the controversial bit out of the way right from the start: I never rated Nirvana. In fact, I count them as one of the most over-rated music acts in recent memory, if not ever. If it wasn't for all the controversy and the untimely suicide of lead singer Kurt Cobain, I don't think they would still be remembered now. Perhaps the endurance of their music is proof of the old adage that it's better to burn out than to fade away.

          Whatever I may feel about his music, there was enough of interest in his life and death to make me curious enough when I came across Charles R. Cross' "Heavier Than Heaven". The other selling point, having just read a dreadful biography of Slash by Paul Stenning, was that this appeared to have the support and assistance of Cobain's family and friends. Indeed, on the cover it was praised for the depth of the research, which was something seriously lacking in Stenning's work.

          Kurt's life begins in a small Washington State town where, at least to start, he seemed a normal, happy child. However, his parents' divorce made him feel unwanted and he suffered a huge sense of rejection when both later remarried, feeling he was no longer the major person in their lives. His sense of isolation from many of his peers at school and later outstaying his welcome with his parents and at friends' homes helped foster this.

          This was a feeling that would haunt him for his entire life from this point, leaving him to doubt that anyone truly loved him. Throughout his young adulthood and his music career, he always felt unappreciated, even when playing to crowds of thousands who had all come to see him. This, in turn, led to relationships troubles with family and friends and resulted in heavy drug use to dull the emotional pain.

          What immediately struck me about this book was the huge amount of detail it contains. Cross' research has encompassed virtually every member of Cobain's extended family and nearly everyone he was ever close to during his professional or personal lives. He has had seemingly unlimited access to Kurt's personal and private writings and this is reflected in the content here.

          It seems as if there isn't a moment of Kurt's life that isn't accounted for in some way here. Considering how many of the people he spoke to had their own drug issues, this is quite incredible. Putting in this amount of research and effort makes this to most comprehensive book on an individual I ever recall reading, even compared to some history textbooks. I've never seen a biography with this level of detail and even autobiographies rarely cover the writer's life in this kind of depth, partly due to self-editing and largely due to lack of memory.

          Given how dark Kurt's psychological state was for most of his life, this is a surprisingly readable book. This is a book that travels into the deepest, darkest recesses of Kurt Cobain's mind, which at times is a frightening place to be. Cross more than adequately describes how this darkness reflected into Cobain's life and from there into the lives of those closest to him. This does make it a slightly uncomfortable read at times, but that's not the author's fault in any way.

          Equally is the slightly repetitive nature of the book. Once Nirvana achieve their success, Kurt's life revolves mostly around his work with the band and his drug taking. There are stories of tours and recording and Kurt's attempts to find drugs and attempts to get him into rehab, usually unsuccessfully. Whilst his lifestyle is frequently fascinating, especially the in depth psychological examination of it, even the traditional rock 'n' roll lifestyle of excess does get a little boring when it's repeated over and over.

          The only aspect of this book that makes it slightly less interesting than many biographies is the lack of photographs. Considering the access Cross had to Cobain's family and, one would presume, to their photograph albums, there is a distinct lack of them here. Given that the book is printed in a relatively small type and does have these dark undertones, these would have help break things up a little. Such pictures aren't essential to a biography, but they would have added a little splash of colour which is obviously missing here and would have been very welcome.

          Despite this, it's certainly the best researched biography I recall reading, covering a life in excellent and, at times, excruciating detail. It's dark and sometimes frightening to witness Cobain's descent into addiction and mental turmoil, but for someone with interests in both music and psychology that I have, it's also quite fascinating. For anyone wanting to see the darker side of fame, or anyone who liked Nirvana more than I did, this is an essential read, even more so considering it can be found from a penny at the Amazon Marketplace or from 50 pence from eBay.

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            22.08.2008 23:12
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            Both shocking and amazing

            To this day controversy and rumour still surround Kurt Cobain's untimely death however this biography, named after an early tour of Europe, gives a very well researched view into the life of the rock star.

            The extent of the research done is clear when you see the pages of source notes and full index. You would be forgiven in thinking that this was an extremely long essay rather than a book! Cross' research consisted of four years of work, during which he conducted over 400 interviews with people connected to Cobain. These include ex-band mates, ex-girlfriends, relatives and of course, his widow, Courtney Love, some of whom also allowed their personal photos of Kurt to be published.
            What makes this book different to other Kurt Cobain biographies is that Cross was given access to Kurt's private journals, which he wrote in constantly and used to express his deepest thoughts, as well as lyrics that had previously gone unpublished.

            The title of each chapter contains the specific dates which it refers to. From his birth in Aberdeen, Washington in February 1967 it gives great detail about his school days, the struggles he faced in trying to start a band to the, perhaps happier but still quite shocking lifestyle he led when he became a husband and father.

            Having been a fan of his music but never really knowing much about the man behind it I feel that this book gave me a real insight into his life. I found myself feeling being both sympathetic to the hardships he faces but, often at the same time, shocked at the lifestyle he led, both has a struggling musician and after he entered the limelight.

            It's worth nothing that neither his mother nor former band mate Dave Grohl made any contribution to this book. It has also received some heavy criticism about the accuracy of some of the points made and it is suggested that Cross may have occasionally accepted second-hand information. Also a friend of Kurt's, music journalist Everett True, claimed the book was highly biased due to Courtney Love's high level of involvement.

            Although this is probably the most detailed biography of Kurt Cobain's life Cross has given his own impressions of what he believes to have happened during Kurt's final days, another point which has caused mixed reviews. But since the events that happened on these days are known only by Kurt Cobain himself, it is up to the reader to decide whether or not they agree with Cross' version of events.

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