Publishers got a sneak peak last week at the journals of former Nirvana
frontman Kurt Cobain, placed up for auction by his widow, Courtney Love,
and widely expected to become a best-seller. Publishing insiders who
have read excerpts from Cobain's 23 notebooks, about 800 pages written
over several years, tell TIME the early buzz is warranted. The diaries
include a handwritten draft of lyrics to Cobain's generation-defining
single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," with verses crossed out and circled.
Cobain obsessively lists his 50 favorite CDs during various periods,
often naming albums by fellow Seattleites the Melvins. There are also
letters to bandmates, to lovers, even a note firing the band's first
Publishing sources describe the diaries as an intimate look at an artist
who cherished his privacy. Says one, "I got a sense of him as a
businessman, as a writer. His personality came through powerfully."
Several passages reflect Cobain's well-documented heroin addiction and
bouts of depression (he committed suicide in 1994). Others like a huffy
list of band rules reveal the surprising ambition of an artist who
popularized a genre grunge that scorned popular success.
reported by Andrea Sachs