Kurt Cobain biographer (Heavier Than Heaven) Charles Cross has issued a slim volume assessing Cobain's lasting impact on the culture, 20 years after the rocker shot himself. Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain (iT! Books) focuses entirely on bands influenced by Cobain (most of whom aren't nearly as interesting as Nirvana), the city of Seattle (not that interesting to non-residents), fashion (is it really a triumph for Cobain that ripped jeans and Converse sneakers have done so well?), and attitudes toward suicide (Cross argues the public furor surrounding his self-murder actually saved lives rather than inspiring "copycats").
Cross posits that the modern media environment is one in which Cobain might not have thrived. But he misses the larger point that the current cultural landscape is an explosive victory for Cobain's indie-punk values of DIY and defiance of mainstream gatekeepers. That chaotic, messy new world might seem ugly to some, but many thought the same could be said about Nirvana's music. -Brian Doherty