The paperback edition of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s “Journals” has been bolstered with 14 pages of new material, including an extended narrative about a semi-fictional serial killer. Riverhead released the volume Nov. 10, with a front cover reproduction of Cobain’s red Mead notebook bearing his hand-written caveat, “if you read, you’ll judge.”
“Frankly, we had this the first time around, but we chose not to include it, because it’s disturbing and bizarre,” Riverhead co-editorial director Julie Grau tells Billboard.com of the serial killer-themed pages. “We checked, and there was a serial killer that shared some of the traits and biographic facts that he writes about. But it’s hard to know if Kurt was inventing all of this but had pieces of facts he recalled.”
“I think the first time, we thought it would skew the appreciation of all the material that was in here,” Grau continues. “Now that the hardcover has come out and the journals have been judged and read, we thought people could handle it.”
“Journals” now also features lyrics to an unrecorded song titled “Travelin’ White Trash Couple,” a cookie recipe and a previously unpublished list of Cobain’s favorite albums, one of the artist’s favorite topics for doodling in his notebooks.
On the latter page, which features albums by the Stooges, the Pixies, Rites Of Spring, Butthole Surfers and Sonic Youth, Cobain’s widow Courtney Love had written a sarcastic note back to him on the other side in dark black ink. “Do you really want to intimidate and alienate people this much?,” she wrote. “This is the most characterless indie rock snob list I have ever seen.”
That list was a recent discovery, according to Grau. “We did hope to find new stuff to include for the paperback months beforehand, but when Courtney recently moved houses, she found some more papers,” she says.
Grau says that despite the initial controversy that arose when Love agreed to publish Cobain’s journals, the project has been validated by the continuing public interest in the late artist’s life and work. “We knew some people would not respect the whole enterprise,” she admits. “But we tried to stay true to the material and we always saw the value of it. To me, it never seemed like a trespass. This was a workbook, not a private diary. There is great interest, borne out by the fact that when we put the book on sale, it was an instant No. 1 best-seller. Time doesn’t seem to diminish interest in Kurt or his icon status.”