I really don’t know what to think of the upcoming Letters to Kurt, by Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson. While it’s understandable that the death of a friend can be a hard thing with which to cope, and understanding the why and wherefore of a suicide is a long-lasting issue for those left behind, this book seems cheap.
Technically, the book itself doesn’t seem cheap. Writing “an anguished, angry, and tender meditation on the octane and ether of rock and roll and its many moons: sex, drugs, suicide, fame, and rage” as an “an elegy for Kurt and the ‘suicide idols’ who tragically fail to find salvation in their amazing music” isn’t cheap. It’s a remarkably touching thing to eulogize a lost friend in any manner, be it poetry, prose, or song.
What does seem cheap, however, are the things being offered with the pre-order by Akashic Books. You can find a complete list of items on the pre-order page, but what strikes me about the whole thing is that there’s really no need to have autographed “Polaroid-style snapshot[s].” Taking a book that’s supposedly a deeply emotional work and commercializing it in such a manner as this only serves to turn Letters to Kurt from a personal statement into a trivial one. Limited-edition extras and autographs make this less like a literary work and more like an exclusive for the members of the Katy Perry street team.