Thursday 11 June 2015

COBAIN: Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen with Richard Bienstock

The riveting companion book to the highly anticipated documentary about the life of Nirvana frontman and grunge legend Kurt Cobain, featuring expanded exclusive interviews with the family and friends who knew him best and never-seen-before photographs and artwork.
More than twenty years have passed since Kurt Cobain took his own life in April 1994. Today, his legacy continues to fascinate, inspire, and haunt us. This riveting chronicle, which accompanies award-winning director Brett Morgen's highly anticipated documentary, paints an illuminating and honest portrait of the Nirvana frontman, capturing the contradictions that made up his character: he could be sincere and sentimental and also ironic and sarcastic, was sweet yet sour, and was both serious and very funny. This book - the only book about Kurt that has been produced with the cooperation of his widow, Courtney Love, and the Cobain Estate - includes interviews with numerous family members and friends, many of whom speak publicly about their relationship with Kurt for the first time, along with animation stills from the film, never-before-seen photographs, and other artefacts, offering revealing new insights into the life and character of Kurt Cobain. It is the ultimate book for fans of Nirvana, whose popularity continues to endure, and of Kurt, who remains a fascinating icon of popular culture.

I'm a Nirvana fan from way back. I always liked their music because I loved their very unique sound. I'll never forget the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit and was instantly captivated by the music, while at the same time being baffled by the lyrics.

As they released more and more songs, I learned to ignore the mismatched, nonsensical lyrics and just appreciated their awesome sound.

I also remember the day Kurt Cobain killed himself. The shock and confusion that filled his fans while trying to comprehend why someone who was so successful and had a family would do such a thing. After his death and inclusion in the 27 Club, Cobain became the object of many urban myths. Everyone had an opinion about his suicide. Some condemned him for it, others blamed his wife. But until you live in someone's shoes, you can't judge or assume to know where that person was at during that certain point in time.

So I was very interested in reading this book because it's not an autobiography that analyses his life, but a recollection of thoughts and memories from the people who knew him best.

At the beginning of the book Brett Morgen says: "The intention here is not to put Kurt on a pedestal. Nor is it to bring him down. Rather, it is to look him in the eye. To humanize him, for better or for worse." And I have to say that he certainly achieved this.

Through the interviews with his parents, sister, stepmother, girlfriend, wife and friend we learn a lot about Kurt's troubled life and constant struggle to create. His pursuit for the family he obviously thought he missed out on was almost brutal, and his fear of humiliation seemed to drive him to the very end.

Cobain: Montage of Heck is first and foremost a beautiful visual experience filled with actual material from Kurt's archives, as well as artistic representations from Hisko Hulsing and Stefan Nadelman. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be an intriguing and personal look into the man the real people in his life knew, not what the public saw. It's honest, disturbing, and very sad.

I found Kurt's story to be a tragic experience, the life of a man with many personal demons and a contradictory nature that ultimately led him to an addiction he couldn't defeat.
Cobain: Montage of Heck, June 2015, ISBN 9780733634468, Hodder & Stoughton

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