When Nirvana's Kurt Cobain died of a self-inflicted shotgun blast in 1994 at age 27, it marked the end of a short life plagued by family troubles, heroin addiction and struggles with fame. His story certainly wasn't heavenly, but it was heavy, and Cross--a grunge sponge who conducted 400 interviews for this serious, substantial biography--lays it all out vividly. Extraordinary access to Cobain's unpublished journals helps the narrative move like the best Nirvana anthems: a slow build, some off-kilter rhythms, softly seductive passages followed by loud screams and a devastating finish. Smells like the real deal.
--By Jeffrey Ressner