An numbingly comprehensive biography strictly for the obsessed.



Everything you always wanted to know about Nirvana . . . and a lot you didn’t.

Despite their relatively small recorded output, Nirvana put together a catalogue worthy of time-capsule placement alongside The Beatles, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin and James Brown, which is why you can almost justify a 500-plus-page study of the band. Since veteran rock journalist and Cobain intimate True was a grunge insider, one would assume that his doorstop of a book would present insights and factoids somehow missed in Michael Azerrad’s fine Come as You Are (1993) and Charles R. Cross’s excellent Heavier Than Heaven (2001). Azerrad and Cross, though, didn’t miss much. This new entry is a rehash bulked up by 200-or-so pages of insider gossip and True’s self-serving I-was-there digressions. The author gets points for experimenting with form and format (oddball footnotes and non-linear asides that almost come off as dream sequences), but it makes for a frustrating read: Think Lester Bangs meets Mark Z. Danielewski. The author is a fine musical analyst, offering up solid evaluation and reevaluation of virtually every note that Nirvana ever played. Many of the anecdotes about random debauchery, ear- and soul-shattering concerts and recording-studio drama make for enjoyably voyeuristic reading. But the this-one-slept-with-that-one-and-that-one-got-wasted-with-this-one material becomes tiresome long before even the halfway point. The innumerable Nirvana fanatics will snap this up, but the more serious-minded are better off sticking with Azerrad and Cross.

An numbingly comprehensive biography strictly for the obsessed.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-306-81554-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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