Nirvana are a band I should probably like more than I do, and know more about than the fleeting trips to 'Nevermind' and 'In Utero', via the fabled, tragic story of Kurt Cobain.

Nirvana's story, from their roots and formation to the untimely passing of Cobain, music's most prominent anti-hero, is a well-trodden one - tweaked by some, exaggerated by others and fabricated entirely by some.

What Carrie Borzillo provides in 'Nirvana: In The Words Of The People Who Were There' is an authoritative timeline of every element of the band's story. Beginning in May 15, 1965 with the birth of eldest member of the trio - and occasional four-piece - Krist Novoselic, five years before the arrival of David Eric Grohl in Warren, Ohio, the book sets out early to become THE guide to the lives of the members and those they touched the most.

These aren't just punctuations, selections or snapped insights into the band's workings. Instead, these are exhaustive accounts of every milestone, lay-by and practice session the band enjoyed or endured. 

Carrie Borzillo's work comes with a reputational stamp, having been in and around the music journalism world long enough to instantly command respect with her writing, and 'Nirvana...' delivers entirely on that expectation. 

Twelve pages in, Borzillo recounts Cobain's first experience with heroin; 'He's previously only smoked pot, drank, and dabbled in pills, such as the tranquilliser Percodan'. It's all astonishingly matter of fact.

Fast forward five chapters and there's a solitary entry of 'February 12, 1992: Nirvana press day in Singapore.' By the time the words 'these were Nirvana's last ever US shows' appear on the page, it's amazing just what has been covered.

While this is an excellent resource and encyclopedia for all things Nirvana, it isn't eminently readable. While her determination to fill this book with factual accounts and her efforts in doing so lift it beyond any other account, the information comes at a cost. 

Not unlike the band's journey, it ultimately becomes a struggle to absorb every tid-bit. The fascinating does, on occasion, become the wearisome, curiously mirroring Nirvana's spiral.

Those hoping for someone to tell the tale of Seattle's fateful son will find many options in their hunt, but very few will find such an in-depth chronology. In many ways, Borzillo has become a silent companion on Nirvana's journey, and this book justifies her efforts entirely.


David Straw

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