Courtney Love — Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love
“Oh I will make myself so beautiful…give me one reason to sell my soul.”
In the author’s note for Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love, Love states that she will never write a book (by this, assume “autobiography”). Instead, what she offers is more a scrapbook than diaries; a collage of sketches, photographs, writings, rough drafts of lyrics and journal entries, arranged chronologically from her early childhood on. Few of the entries are dated, and Love and her publishers make the correct assumption that most readers will know enough of her history to guess the time lines.
What emerges from the book’s impressionistic style is a sense of Love’s contradictory persona. She’s the Bay City Rollers fan turned feminist punk rocker turned Versace-clad Oscar presenter with an A-list social circle. Her parole reports show a neglected, rebellious teen in search of the structure and affection missing from her family life. Some note-to-self and proto-lyrics reveal a lust for success and fame, others show the desperate insecurity that drives her. In one note, she wonders if her lovers ?nd her ugly.
She displays a canny ability to identify those who can help her get ahead and a shark-like instinct for survival, moving through different social scenes from Liverpool, Minneapolis and Portland through to Hollywood, absorbing what she needs, then moving on. She can appear callow. At one point, presumably soon after husband Kurt Cobain’s suicide, she rattles off a breathless rundown of that day’s celebrity callers.
However, those looking for her to dish the dirt on her relationship with Cobain will be disappointed. A gentler side emerges in her references to him. “Things I want. Brilliant & Best & Most Honest Songs. Kurt’s happiness. Solid relationship. True Love. KIDS.” Her most emotional moments are saved for their daughter, Frances. The lost drug years are just that, an unsurprising absence.
Carrie Fisher’s sympathetic introduction gives the book a well-needed overview, but the arty faux-punk layout and hard-to-decipher handwritten notes eventually make Diaries feel repetitive and impenetrable.
Love makes a fascinating subject, and somewhere out there the de?nitive book is waiting to be written on her. This work will provide some of the source material for it. (Perhaps Fisher should take the job.)
Few writers manage to turn the mirror on themselves successfully, and here Love chooses to show
us only glimpses of her own fractured re?ection.