Customer Reviews: Cobain Unseen
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Personally I thought Charles R. Cross has wrung Kurt Cobain's musical and personal legacy dry.

But apparently he hasn't, as evidenced by the image-heavy brick that is "Cobain Unseen." It has some basic biographical information about Cobain and attempts to address his inner life, but doesn't really reveal much that we don't already know. The real draw is the seemingly endless slew of pictures, letters and scraps from his all-too-brief lifetime.

After briefly covering the major events of Kurt Cobain's childhood, Cross explores his ramshackle youth and growing musical abilities -- culminating in Nirvana (whose name he says stemmed from Cobain's love of Eastern beliefs), one of the most groundbreaking bands of the 1990s.

But Cobain's life remained pretty tumultuous, as Cross explores quite a few aspects of Cobain's life -- his dark outlook and weird fascinations, his rebellion against his own fame and the widespread adulation of him, his marriage to the crazy rocker Courtney Love, and the birth of their daughter. And, of course, the days leading up to his early death.

Cross's prose portions are serviceable, but it feels more like a longish magazine article instead of a biography. Some of the anecdotes are moderately interesting -- such as Kurt seeing a dying suicide as a schoolboy -- but most of this stuff is a glossy, rapid look over his life. Most of the time, Cross's written stuff simply form a framework for the rest of the book.

The really good stuff is the pictures. There's a brilliant array of personal photos -- a laughing Cobain posing with his baby daughter, in concert, standing beside Japanese Jizo statues, hanging out with Courtney Love or his bandmates, playing with a steering wheel as a baby. They show him from all emotional angles -- happy, miserable, rebellious, mournful, angry, sullen, quirky, and even with a faint, dark fire in his eyes.

Some are unstaged and mildly blurry, while others look like magazine photoshoots -- like a beautiful picture of a blank-faced Cobain posing amongst doll heads, with a blanket of roses over his head. And there are many fragments of Cobain's interests -- odd dolls, masks, heart-shaped boxes, monkeys with batteries, tiger suits, carved-up drawing figures and audio cassettes covered in fruit stickers.

But the most unusual stuff is the assorted fold-outs and removable items -- ads for Nirvana, a copy of Kurt's high school diploma, a CD of old songs, blurry letters, X-rays, handmade cards, and even an old handwritten draft of "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It makes the book seem like less of a biography, and more like a collage of various fragments from Cobain's lifetime.

The prose content comes second in "Cobain Unseen," where beautiful pictures and rock'n'roll relics reveal a vibrant personality that still shines from the pages. Definitely worth checking out.
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on May 5, 2012
Personally I found this book quite interesting. I love that I can learn more about Kurt Cobain's art and music. I even see Cobain's unusual sense of humor. I got really creeped out by the execution of his Freddy Krueger doll.

Nevertheless be careful. Reason I'm saying this- The author and his puppeteer. Charlie has faced many accusations of being a moral sell-out and being g a suck-up to Courtney Love (all of which are very true) .

Still a good book. Read with cuation though.
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on August 19, 2013
This book is great for any Nirvana fan! Or just for the sake of loving Kurt. You can take out anything, from Stickers, look-alike song lyric papers, and just little unique things that Kurt had or was involved with. This book is STRICTLY about his artistic life, and the suicide note is not included. Kurt is so beautifully creative, and I wish, like many others, that he was still here. RIP Kurt, and thanks again.
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on November 3, 2008
I just picked this up today and I can't seem to put it down. If your a fan of Cobain and or Nirvana I recommend buying this. It is packed full of very nice pictures and tons of other things.
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on October 18, 2008
I got this book yesterday and I can't put it down. Great rare pictures of Kurt and his art. All interactive items have been very well constructed and put together. Great for anyone's collection on Cobain!!
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on March 23, 2013
This is a great book because we're all aware of Kurt's actions; and this focuses more on Mr. Cobain's creative process. A very good, knowledgeable way to see Kurt and let's us in on a better way to understand his lyrics/music. Also, it comes with a lot of pics we are not use to seeing. Very good Mr. Cross, and I envy every second you was allowed to stand,sit and/or breathe in Kurt's Vault of Creativity; as well as getting to visit the many places Kurt lived, stayed or visited. I like this book, and Nirvana's fans will love it as well if they haven't already got a chance to skim it. NICE!
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on November 24, 2013
Though other reviewers weren't too thrilled with this book, I truly enjoyed it. I liked the "scrapbook" ambiance of the book. Of all the books about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain I've read over the years, I think this is one of the best because it gives the readers an intimate glimpse into his life. The bonus cd was great!
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on October 16, 2008
Cobain Unseen is not another biography of Kurt, nor a time line of the band. This book is one hundred and sixty pages of Kurt's art and rare pictures of his childhood though the end of Nirvana. I've been a fan of Nirvana since 1989 and I had never seen 90% of the pictures in this book. Besides pictures, there's reprints of polaroid pictures, a lyric sheet, stickers, old Nirvana fliers, and even a mask that Kurt doodled on.

Charles Cross is a great writer, and if you've read "Heavier Than Heaven", which you should have if your looking into this book, than you already know that. While there are some great stories and insights into Kurt, this book is about his art. It also comes with a spoken word cd, read by Kurt.

This is a great book for ANY fan of Kurt's.
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on June 13, 2012
When I initially looked at the book, I was overwhelmed by all of the pictures and random items alone. But after reading the actual story, I felt I knew Kurt a lot better. The story is very well written and makes Kurt's life so engaging. To anyone, not just fans of Nirvana, I would recommend this book in an instant.
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on November 22, 2008
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It did have a lot of pictures I hadn't seen before. I also like how it included personal drawings, notes and even a spoken word CD with Kurt. I think it was well worth the money. I must say that I left this book feeling a little bit more sad than I had reading all the others. Sorry, I'm not very good at reviewing. All I can say is I loved it, great concept.
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