In tomorrow's Times Book Review, 2005's it-novelist Ben Kunkel reviews Everett True's Nirvana: The Biography. Though there's no doubting Kunkel's competence in the relevant literature — apparently, Heavier than Heaven is "badly marred" by the influence of she-devil Courtney Love and Come as You Are "scants [the band members'] backgrounds" — one wonders if Kurt Cobain is really the super-sensitive misunderstood wünderkind in question here:
And the adolescent, like the artist transformed into a commodity, is right to be confused: right to want to be popular; right to be contemptuous of popularity; right to hate the faults in himself that make his popularity undeserved; and right also to hope that winning a deserved popularity might actually redeem, for a time, the entire category of the popular.That seems an awful lot of, well, indecision, for a guy who blew out his brains with a shotgun. I mean, did Cobain even go to college?!
I did! And, take it from me, there's no denying that Kunkel's really on-the-ball about how cool things become uncool once they are cool:
There was so much hype — inevitable word — over Nirvana and its demise that the music later seemed somehow buried beneath the ephemera it occasioned. It became almost embarrassing to listen, in one's dorm room, to Cobain's strangely sarcastic and inviting voice, when journalists had called him the voice of our generation....When we remember that Cobain was called the voice of our generation, it becomes striking how untrue this proved — a black mark against his (and, more or less, my) generation more than against him, perhaps.Yeah, hype is a terrible machine that ruins pop genius. Almost makes me want to stop listening to music altogether and, I don't know, read contemporary fiction. —JonStupid and Contagious [NYTBR]