An intimate perspective on Cobain’s short life, told in the spirit of burnishing a friend’s legacy.



A sentimental but precisely rendered account of the life of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain by one of his first music industry backers.

Goldberg (In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea, 2017, etc.) was a key player in the 1990s alternative rock explosion, moving from his management agency, Gold Mountain, to Atlantic Records. In between, he connected with Nirvana when the Seattle band was young, untested, and hungry. He recalls those early days: “Kurt connected very deeply with the audience….It was a particular form of rock ’n’ roll magic I’d never witnessed before.” Regarding his role in the band’s meteoric rise following 1991’s “Nevermind,” Goldberg re-examines old debates about “selling out” and the industry’s role in dispersing the regional punk-rock underground. Admitting his unfamiliarity with the scene that inspired the young Cobain, the author’s writing is most acute in revealing the complex machinations of the ’90s pop music industry, which was reliant on radio and MTV. As Goldberg shepherded Nirvana to David Geffen’s DGC Records, he recalls, “in marketing terms, the band wanted to keep its credibility with its early fans while also pulling in lots of new ones.” The author provides a close-up take on the familiar tale of what happened next, covering Cobain’s contradictory, sometimes-hostile responses to stardom, his attempts to stay true to an artistic vision, and his distress regarding media coverage of his marriage to Courtney Love. He focuses on Cobain’s loyalty to his circle, kindness, generosity, and artistic temperament. Though he mostly elides examination of his flaws, Goldberg acknowledges they were always part of his creative development, and he provides a terse account of Cobain’s sad, chaotic decline. Cobain returned Goldberg’s regard, calling him “the most honest man in show biz.” Some will note the author’s continued loyalty to the perspective of Love, a controversial figure for many Nirvana fans; still, Goldberg comes off as likable, a successful insider still befuddled by Cobain’s demons.

An intimate perspective on Cobain’s short life, told in the spirit of burnishing a friend’s legacy.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286150-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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