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Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain [Hardcover]

Charles R. Cross
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Sep 2001
Based on more than 400 interviews; four years of research; exclusive access to Cobain's unpublished diaries; and a wealth of documentation, HEAVIER THAN HEAVEN traces Cobain's life from his early days in a trailer to his rise to fame and the adulation of a generation. Cross reveals the familial turmoil that fuelled Cobain's creativity and the unusual love story with Courtney Love. Drawing on medical and police reports, Cross reveals the truth about Cobain's health and his tragic final days. Charles Cross's work is a remarkable portrait of a creative genius.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First Edition First Printing edition (6 Sep 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340739371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340739372
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The art of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was all about his private life, but written in a code as obscure as TS Eliot's. In Heavier than Heaven Charles Cross has cracked the code, and this definitive biography is 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 revealing an unreleased Nirvana masterpiece. At last we know how he created, how lies helped him die, how his family and love life entwined with 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 teenager, 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 teenage 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. Cross, the co-author of Nervmind: 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 immortalised 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


‘Superbly researched and harrowing...The squalor is ghastly but the sheer sadness of Cobain's brief life is beautifully conveyed here. Cross has painstakingly accumulated a wealth of telling detail’ (Robert Sandall, Sunday Times )

‘Cross’s research is impeccable...HEAVIER THAN HEAVEN is, or should be, the last word on Kurt Cobain.’ (Lynn Barber, Daily Telegraph )

‘I was very glad to read this biography, the result of four years' research and 400 interviews, not to mention the sainted Kurt's police and medical records AND his unpublished journals. I was in hog heaven all the way through - in a caring, wistful way, of course.’ (Julie Burchill, Guardian )

'Wins immediate entry into the rock lit pantheon. Five stars'

( Q Magazine )

'Cross's portrayal of a shy but prodigiously gifted child, in artistic as well as musical terms, is a joy to read' ( Observer )

‘The secret here is that Cross was allowed unprecedented access to Cobain's world; his diaries, artworks and most significantly the people who surrounded him. Cross may vividly depict the seemingly inevitable demise of a rock star but he also successfully conveys just what all the fuss was about in the first place.’ ( The List ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By Caliaudio VINE VOICE
Charles Cross's popular biography of Kurt Cobain is alarming reading. I read Michael Azzerad's Come As You Are back in '94 and remember an acutely different tale. Azzerad was fortunate enough to have had extensive interviews with Cobain, unlike Cross, and his book is strikingly disimilar to this.
Ultimately, I think Cross's account is the more accurate of the two. It is also somewhat different in tone, being a biography of Kurt Cobain, not Nirvana. Cross pulls no punches, and his book is the better for it.
Cobain's duplicity as recorded here is astonishing. This is a compelling account of a man who desparately sought fame and recognition, who invented a history for himself barely worse than his actual past and, inevitably, this is a story of serious drug abuse.
The second half of the book - detailing the years 1991 to 1994 - is overwhelmingly concerned with Cobain's addiction to heroin. Contrary to popular belief, the singer was rarely clean for more than a few weeks during the last three years of his life. This is not light reading; it is the painful account of a young man's weakness and mental decay.
Throughout the book, Courtney Love is respectfully portrayed by Cross as a loving wife and supporter of Cobain. No doubt this is true in some respects, but you get the impression Cross backed-off detailing much of Love's character. In return she provided him with access to Kurt's diaries, some entries from which are published here. It was a reasonable trade-off, I suppose, but not terrific journalism.
Interesting and often horrific, Heavier Than Heaven is a valuable biography for its honesty, and the only essential piece of writing on Cobain so far. Recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Where this book really scores is in the portrayal of Cobain's troubled early life and his years before fame. The seeds were sown for what was to follow, his inability to come to terms with almost overnight mega stardom. In being terrified by being regarded as the spokesperson for a generation there are obvious comparisons with Dylan, almost 30 years earlier. But unlike Dylan, the disturbed Cobain lacking mental strength and a stable background, was unable to ride out the storm. Coupled with undiagnosed health problems, heroin addiction preceded his suicide.

My reservations concerning the latter part of the book result from the major input of Courtney Love. It is very tainted. With all of her own demons she could not have provided the support Cobain so desperately required. This does not come through in the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves 16 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be a great insight into the early years of Kurt Cobain - I previously knew very little about his childhood/teens having never read a biography on him before. It has obviously been well researched and extensive sources are listed, and the analysis of this period of his life is well written.

However, the book takes a turn as soon as Courtney Love is mentioned. It is from this point on that you begin to get suspicions that the insinuation that the book has been written with the permission of Kurt Cobains estate, is in fact an indication as to who is pulling the strings on the direction of this book.

Whilst there continues to be interesting passages from Cobain's life retold in a full and candid manner, any mention of Love is heavily skewed in painting her in a favourable light, and it gets worse as the book goes on. There are some passages about Love in which the writing style changes to an almost child-like rambling for a sentence or two (usually in her defence), which implies to me that they may have been written by Courtney herself.

I do recommend you read this book, but as soon as Courtney gets involved drop it immediately!

As an aside, whilst the author attempts to deal sensitively with the issue of drug-abuse, I can't believe that the author would have independently stated that parents can be full-time heroin addicts and 'fit' parents. Whilst I do not doubt Love's assertion that they were loving, they definitely were in no state to bring up a baby and leave it at home with (drug-addict) friends.

I will definitely look at more Cobain-bio literature though, in order to see how this fits into the existing material.

Peace out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving and yet very disturbing 29 Oct 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book around 6 months ago, just to have something to read. Being a casual reader, my attention span is short when reading. However reading "Heavier than Heaven", I got thinking "maybe i should read alot more".

Kurt Cobain is one of my favourite musicians. Maybe for the music he made or maybe for the legend he left behind but he is my generations icon. This is a fantastic book which I am pleased to have read. From Kurts humble beginnings (which proved testing times for him personally and in his family) to his shocking suicide, the story just pulled my heart strings to a point I have never felt before. After finishing reading it many months ago, certain words and remarks from the book stick with me, especially the poignant ones which gives me a lump in my throat to this day. Charles R Cross has wrote this exceptionally well and each chapter has been crafted with great care. I was expecting some scathing remarks about Kurt, his family and friends but the author creates a very real telling of the events that Jurt went through. (Being the huge Kurt fan I am, I have watched, read, seen and researched as much as I could on him, so I feel confident with my statement)

There are certain things in this book that once you read them will go straight over your head such as the drug usuage and the way Courtney Love was racking her brains trying to find where Kurt had gone in his last few days. its when you put the book down and you just try to understand it more about the feelings and the torture of not knowing what has happened to Kurt. I guess you could say being in their shoes. It is a horrific thought to have to go through such pain but with the way the author described the scenes of anguish (and the joys) you truly feel as if you were the one it was happening to.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing book
Published 9 days ago by Glenn McMichan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love this book,well researched and written,good condition but delivery rather slow.
Published 18 days ago by lynnB
1.0 out of 5 stars he after all describes it completely like he was
I've chosen to give this book one star because of the way, Charles R. Cross, seems to have written the book from Courtney Love's point of view. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lol
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read
If you're interested in Kurt Cobain or a fan you'll really like this book. It has a lot in it that isn't very well known to the public & tells the truth about various rumours about... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Snejina Tzanev
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written biography of Cobain
Charles Cross has been criticised that he fabricated some of the book, because he wasn't there in Cobain's final days. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Colonel Decker
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete and harrowing account
If you have ever wished to get a grip on who Kurt Cobain was and what drove him to his suicide then this book has to be read
In a beautiful piece of writing the author has... Read more
Published 6 months ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read
I received this book for Christmas as I am a huge Nirvana fan, and love to read. I had been looking forward to reading it for quite some time, and found that once I picked it up I... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Molly Joyner
4.0 out of 5 stars Charles R. Cross - Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain |...
Heavier Than Heaven is probably the most accurate portrait of Kurt's life on the market, and boy are there a lot of them on the market. Read more
Published 8 months ago by SocialBookshelves.com
4.0 out of 5 stars A very readable biography of the life of Kurt Cobain
A very readable account of Kurt's passage from happy boy to troubled teen to disturbed adult, who despite the love and acceptance of his family, friends and fans could never love... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars !
I enjoyed every word of the book. Couldn't put it down since I started.
recommended to everyone who likes biography books.
Published 9 months ago by Gintautas
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