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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 20 October 2003
I bought this book right after it came out. I read it during moments snatched from days and nights of a lot of academic work. When you open the book, it warns you 'not to read the diary when I (Kurt Cobain) am gone..' but my curiosity got the better of me. I read on to find a rather articulate and meticulous person (who else will make a checklist for every stop of the tour bus that includes 'check oil' and 'check tyres'?) quite different from the drugged persona that means a rock star to you and me. A chronicle of the way Kurt Cobain changed over time, it makes you wonder about 'success' in general and 'rock star success' in specific. Curiously there can be deep introspective moments but that was just my experience.
Strangely enough just around that time, we were discussing the changing concept of copyright in network economics. Besides I am deeply interested in privacy technologies and the social debate around it. In all, I experienced a terrible dilemma with this book - by buying this, was I aiding and abetting privacy violation (even posthumous) or copyright violation (since these are not Courtney Love's diaries so how could she publish them???).. Any guesses?
Read it only if you can deal with the conflicting emotions that rightly overcome you when you read someone's diary without their knowledge or consent.. 4 stars for the depressing times this caused me, when I could least afford the time..
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on 26 February 2013
I just feel really sorry for Kurt now and I feel kind of bad for buying this thing. It was practically stolen from a dead person. It was a piece of him, a beautifully tragic piece of various periods of his short life. But I must admit he was a genius and his diaries have this little grunge-kind-of-suicidal magic in them. I love his drawings, he really did express himself and it only takes a small bit of common sense and compassion to understand it a bit. If you've ever been through a tough time, i'm sure you'll understand. I'm actually glad they didn't publish all his journals, memories deserve to be kept a secret. At least the private ones. And... some of the comments about him on here make me a little bit sick, I mean, he's dead... And no one reads your diaries either, so why so much judgement. You didn't know him in person, but I'm not trying to defend anyone. I'm just saying he was a huge inspiration to me, in a sad kind of way. He surely wasn't the best example for any person in the world, but a little respect towards a dead person wouldn't hurt you, perhaps.
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on 12 February 2005
From what I can gather of the text I can actually read, this is an extremely good book, all be it a diary. The draft song lyrics are very interesting and the album cover and t-shirt ideas are, at points, hilarious. I'm not sure whether Kurt wanted his personal diaries released, but I'm sure Courtney would be able to find an excuse if called upon.
What would make this book 1000% better would be a version twice as thick, with the actual journal on the right hand page and a readable transcription on the left, like a Shakespeare play. This would make this an easy 5 star, where it rightly belongs.
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on 1 December 2015
An insightful look into Cobain's creative mind. For anyone who's seen Montage of Heck then a lot of the material within will seem familiar as it was featured in the documentary. As for people wondering about invading someone's private thoughts: yes it is technically profiteering from a dead man's belongings but it's interesting and who said anything about flawed morality anyway? ;)
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on 8 December 2002
I guess only Nirvana fans are reading this, hence the 5 stars. If you don't have much knowledge of Nirvana or Kurt Cobain, then this book will feel out of context. That's not a criticism of the book, because here we have a collection of personal notes by Kurt, to himself, without chapter headings, introductions or even dates.
Certainly it is without question an interesting read, and you will get something out of the experience of reading it. And nowhere else, are we 'privileged' enough to read such explicit and personal information.
But this review comes with a warning. Kurt Cobain was awash with contradiction. This book makes you question your beliefs about him, and it would be easy to assume an honesty in his writing that would lead to the conclusion that KC was manipulative and calculated - that his sincerity was a front. The ambition and drive for success that he so often mocked, is reflected from his very thoughts.
5 stars because I feel privileged to have this information available to me, that it appears uncensored, that we get a little closer to one of our most prolific artists in living memory.
Let me end on one final concern. Throughout reading this book, and now with its poignant remarks stored in my mind, I continue to wonder whether it was right to read it. Have we betrayed him, have we sold him out?
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on 22 January 2005
Wow! I am really impressed with this book! I have been an avid Nirvana fan for a long time now, and when I read about the book I just had to buy it. The book is not one you can pick up and read because each page is not just a block of writing Kurt has wrote everyday. It contains drafts of letters to old bandmates and friends. The pictures and drawings that Kurt drew in his journal are amazing. He is not a person that is easily understood but this book has helped me learn alot about him. However, I was left with the feeling should I have read that. He was such a private person when he was alive, would he really want us reading his journals after his untimely death? But, a fantastic insight too an undoubtly talented man that makes a sightly guilty read.
P.S: You wouldn't like the book if you do not like Nirvana
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on 6 April 2005
A different read to other books available because it's in his own handwriting; this in itself makes a physiological impact. The reader is able to take a brief glimpse into his personal thoughts and feelings (albeit high or not). It shows that not only was he an excellent song writer, but he was also artistically and literary talented (it is also worth noting that his spelling was surprisingly good and his bad language deliberately suppressed when necessary)! It also shows that his mind never seemed to stop ticking; he was, of course, a bomb waiting to go off. My only difficulty with this book is feeling guilty that I read it and enjoyed it. Read it and judge!
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on 6 June 2011
I've read the Journals many times. I remember I didn't wanted to purchase the book at first, that the selling of the Journals only would made Courtney richer, taking advantage of her late husband's fame, not only, taking advantage of the man who adored her (listen to Reading 1992 , before All Apologies, for proof) and - according some very interesting theories based on tons of clear evidences - who she murdered.
But it happened that I was looking for something interesting to read and I came across a copy of it at a very discounted price, and I couldn't help to buy it.
Reading Cobain's Journals is somewhat like reading Christiane F. (the German girl that used heroin from the age of 13. The book she herself wrote about her life and her experiences is so beautiful that it was made into a very famous and successful movie in the 70's).
I think reading Cobain's Journal is very important and interesting for everyone, but most of all, for 4 kind of people:
- people interested in writing and playing their own music and starting a band;
- people involved in drug use and whatever kind of addiction;
- people interested in teenagers, their own world, and the world that is all around them, explained from their own point of view;
- people interested in Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.
The book, of course after his music and his art, is the most interesting portrait of Kurt Cobain one could ever find.
There we can find the real Kurt Cobain, so different from the usual image we are often forced to deal with: so very different from the one you can read in Heavier than Heaven, for instance.
I was struck from all the nasty things that happened in Kurt's life, and I was even more struck from his clear, serene, dethatched way to tell and to explain them. I was struck from the respectful and adoring way he refers to women and children. I was struck from his own feelings. At one point he's telling something about having at school a class for girls only: a class about "what to do in case of rape". It was surely about how to search for medical and psychiatrical help.
Kurt wrote that all the boys, and himself , were sent out to play football in the meantime the class was kept. And he wrote something about "the class should have kept for the boys, not the girls, to teach us to respect our sisters".
I think it shows so clearly how wonderful Kurt really was.
There are lots of other wonderful things, for instance, he remembers that, when he was a child, he listened to a French song about a person that was about to die; he couldn't understand the lyric, but the music alone made him cry. He could feel so deeply the things that people don't say, or that they said but he couldn't understand.
He tried to understand the reasons that make so wrong the world we are living in: poverty, no justice, no freedom...
He wrote about his own illness, things like going to the doctors and the doctors didn't understood what was happening, and gave him lots of medicines that didn't worked.
He wrote about journalist making up things about him that weren't true.
He said that television is killing creativity and one has better to listen to good music than to watch bad tv.
There are jokes, sketches, short-stories, some bits of Nirvana lyrics, some mentions to songs and music he liked and he was listening to (and music he didn't liked, and that he wasn't listening to).
And there are lots of minor things, ordinary, everyday things, that make Kurt nearer to everyone of us.
I absolutely adore the Journals.
Now, if one find a used copy, one doesn't make Courtney any richer.
I admit I couldn't help to purchase a new copy the English pressing book, this one with the red cover, it seems to be the more complete.
There are still some things I have to tell you: some of the Journals were lost, so we haven't the complete history; some of them could have been faked by Courtney, for instance, the story of the Gold Ring. This story is written down in a very poor English, that seems more like Courtney than like Kurt; Courtney could have written it just to showing off, to make other people see how much Kurt loved her: this is usual for her, for instance she said Heart-Shaped Box was written for her but it's clear it is for Wendy (Wendy cut him out of angel hair; who else?)
No matter all the editing done by Courtney, the real Kurt Cobain was very different from the one she would like to let us know.
And the careful reader will find him here.
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Goddamit. This is wrong. So wrong. This is like reading the diary of your best friend and realising that he's realising that he's as mundane, dull, and screwed up as you are. It breaks every last ounce of credibility that Courtney Love has : she's auctioning off the inner thoughts of a dead man who would, no doubt, be horrified to know that his wife is bankrolling his neurosis now her career has dried up.

Maybe that's why Chris Novoselic refuses to read it.

"If you read it, you'll judge" it says, scrawled in some immature pen. But who we judge is not Cobain. But Courtney. A fading, falling half-star, doomed to disintegrate on re-entry into the real world, trying to insulate themselves from their inevitable fall and their status as a has-been. A woman who sold the most private thoughts of her suicidal husband to the highest bidder.

Because she has nothing left to sell. Being a widow is not a long-term career option. It didn't even work for Yoko. And nobody's interested in a temperamental, not very successful artist who hasn't had a hit in years.

But the "Kurt Cobain's Journals" aren't that. They're not journals. They were never meant to be read. They're the disjointed, half-formed notebook rambling of a mid-US nobody who became an icon junkie rock star. Self-disgust is self-obsession honey, and Cobains favourite subject is always, always, always himself, existing in his own, insular world of punk rock poverty and an inferiority complex larger than the sun.

Letters are malformed, words mis-spelt, shrunken, twisted. Everything in Kurt Cobains world is crushed and mutated. Not only is it physically difficult to decipher the meaning from the boyish scrawl, This should never have been published. It has no artistic merit in terms of content, there is no moral justification for its publication, and is nothing more, and nothing less, than graverobbing.

That's the impression I get here. On cheap notebook paper, scrawled in biro, Cobain makes friends with old vinyl records and his insecurities, obsessing over his own flaws, pitying his lot, obsessed with his fears : women, sex, security. He painted himself as a victim for so long, adopted the role as his own, and when fortune smiled upon him, he simply switched neurosis' to another object of disgust : his own self-disgust was such that his perception of reality would not allow him to tolerate himself as anything but a victim. And so he invented narcolepsy to absolve his problems, complained of a legendary yet possibly non-existent stomach ailment, and became the kind of tedious bore that the truly self-obsessed become.

Ultimately, what these disjointed, non-linear, scrawls from a self-obsessed, self-disgusted, immature genius prove is that nothing is more tedious than depression. Every page is a variation upon the themes of inadequacy, fear, and a hatred : of himself, of others, of everything. Kurt's blind spot is that his prejudices against others were exactly the same brand of ignorant fear that he despised in others.

"Kurt Cobain's Journals" are a travesty. Aside from the odd, rare striking image that rises from the page, the quality of the writing, and the contents are dire, shopping list stuff. And these are the highlights.

Penguin, hang your heads in shame. Courtney, blow your head off with a shotgun. Readers, stick with the records. Don't fund this kind of heartless exploitation. It should have never been published. It should never be bought. It should never be read. It's heartless graverobbing exploitation of the dead who cannot defend themselves.

"Go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to
Go on, take everything, take everything, I dare you to"- Hole, Violet.
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on 29 October 2015
I read this at a friend's house a few years ago and decided to buy a copy of my own. Not sure what Kurt would make of people owning this but it's such a great read. Its got a lot of his sketches and just general really interesting notes by Cobain.
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