Penguin Putnam imprint Riverhead Books has acquired the rights to the personal journals of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and plans to publish a hardcover book based on them late this year. The diaries consist of 23 notebooks and 800 pages of writings and drawings, dating from before Nirvana’s 1987 formation to around the time of Cobain’s April 1994 suicide.
“As you would imagine with anybody’s personal journal or diary, it’s uniquely revealing of what that person was thinking and moved to record in writing at any particular point in their life,” Riverhead co-editorial director Julie Grau tells Billboard.com. “It’s why first-person writing is perennially fascinating. It’s incomparably intimate.” Grau says it’s too early to discuss if specific aspects of Cobain’s life will be given more of a spotlight than others, and declined to reveal additional content-related details.
Excerpts from the diaries appeared for the first time in Charles Cross’ Cobain biography, “Heavier Than Heaven,” published last summer by Hyperion. Their rights are controlled by Cobain’s estate, of which his wife Courtney Love is the executor. “The important thing is that these journals represent Kurt Cobain’s life and his thoughts,” Grau says. “This is a book that is going to stand on its own. It’s by Kurt Cobain. There’s no point comparing it to anything anyone else has written, because these are his words.”
Love is at the center of a dispute with the surviving members of Nirvana over control of the group’s recordings. Last year, she obtained an injunction blocking the release of a Nirvana box set assembled by bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl. In September, she filed a complaint against Grohl, Novoselic, and Universal Music Group, seeking a declaration that Nirvana’s contract with the company is void and that all rights pertaining to the band revert to her.
In December, Grohl and Novoselic filed a countersuit against Love in an attempt to have her complaint dismissed. The case is still pending.