[hear the deal from the esteemed John Strausbaugh]


Cobains Diaries

Cobains Diaries

by Kurt Cobain

Come As You Are. Did he know? Thats what bounces in your skull as you read Journals, Kurt Cobains just-published, sued-over, dead-punk-kid-dragged-into-the-light literary debut (Riverhead Books, 304 pages, $29.95). Did Mr. Cobain, who would rather be called Kurdt than Kurt, know that his descriptions of the flu ("when I fart my eyes burn") and experiences as a "retard fucker" would get printed eight-and-a-half years after he died to accompany his greatest-hits album?

Yeah. Probably. You get the sense that Cobain never did anything without one lidded eye toward public consumption, except maybe heroin. And so theres a bit of a story arc to Journals. If you start at page one, you get Cobains 21-year-old grousings to his music friends (Dale Crover of the Melvins, Mark Lanegan, ex-Screaming Trees) about the lack of an LP from Sub Pop. These are funny, ambitious and self-deprecatingthe combination of swagger and stagger that typified his music. Theres no grace period for Nevermind, thougharound page 75 you are right into deranged rants about right-wingers, drugs, rock critics and all that crazy stuff that made Nirvana coolthe seahorses, the slogans ("censorship Is VERY American"), the treatments for videos and comma lists of poetry.

Journals is great. The lyrics for "Incesticide" are finally here. The stories are hilarious. The phrases stick with you. The best excerpts all got printed in Newsweek a month ago, but Im partial to this one: "Are you gay? Bisexual? A bigot? A redneck? A prom queen? A porn star? A topless cancer? Did you know the King, the King of Rock n Roll Elvis Presley died in the bathroom face down, pants down, choking on blue shag carpet with the remainder of his stool proudly sticking out of his big fat ass? Are you kinda mad sometimes at your mom or dad kinda, in a way?"

Now, you wouldnt want the Nirvana fan in your life saving Newsweek or clipping New York Press, would you? Journals presentation is flawless, with photocopies of spiral notebook pages instead of transcriptions. Plus, in Nirvanas final hidden track, the book jacket hides a beautiful covera red Mead notebook on which Kurdt wrote, "If you read youll judge." Under that are come stains.

Ned Vizzini