Your complete Kurt Cobain reading guide: Journals, biographies, and more
Reading to Remember
This week, marking the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, HarperCollins’ Ecco published Serving the Servant, a fascinating new biography of the Nirvana frontman by none other than Danny Goldberg, the band’s iconic manager. (Available for purchase.) The book works to reframe Cobain’s legacy by blending Goldberg’s memories with information and files that have previously not been public. As Cobain is remembered this week, it’s essential reading — though hardly the only book out there worth your time. Here, EW has rounded up the essential Cobain reading list.
Journals by Kurt Cobain
Arranged in close chronological order and kept in their rawest form, Journals is the essential read for any Cobain fan: a collection of his writings, from scrapped notes and letter drafts to wild sketches and shopping lists, which offer unparalleled access into his interior life. The no. 1 New York Times best-seller was originally published in 2002. “The publication of this unintentional autobiography of the famously talented and infamously troubled artist is a vast leap in the mythologizing and marketing of Kurt Cobain,” EW wrote at the time of release. “And the journey from Cobain’s hands to a store near you involves healthy measures of the serendipitous and the surreal.”
Heavier Than Heaven by Charles R. Cross
Charles R. Cross’ definitive biography of Cobain traces his life story via more than 400 interviews, and intimate access to the Nirvana frontman’s private journals and lyrics. Despite its breadth and close sourcing, Heavier Than Heaven drew criticism for Cross’ subjective account of Cobain’s final hours.
Love & Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain by Max Wallace and Ian Halperin
This 2004 best-selling co-written by Ian Halperin and Max Wallace arrived as a controversial work of investigative journalism. Drawing on dozens of hours of conversation audiotapes obtained by the authors, Love and Death makes the argument that Cobain was murdered, with his then-wife Courtney Love a potential conspirator. The book is a product of a rigorous decade-long process for Halperin and Wallace.
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen
A companion to the HBO documentary of the same name, Montage of Heck includes extensive interviews, gorgeous animation stills, and previously-unseen photography as filmmaker Brett Morgen put on screen. It doesn’t shed a ton of new light on Cobain, but it’s perfect after-movie reading for those who’ve yet to check out the heartbreaking, illuminating documentary.
Godspeed by Barnaby Legg & Jim McCarthy & Flameboy
This explicit, starkly visual homage to Cobain combines biographical details with interpretations of the artist’s internal struggles. Barnaby Legg and Jim McCarthy constructed their story accordingly, while the vivid, nightmarish, provocative art came courtesy of Flameboy.
Kurt Cobain: The Last Session by Jesse Frohman & Glenn O'Brien & Jon Savage
Get inside of Cobain’s final photoshoot with Nirvana, which took place in August 1993. In The Last Session, 90 stunning photographs present a dazzling final visual memory of the man, capturing him in a plethora of extreme, intense emotional states.