Eighteen years or so since Cobain’s suicide, Erlandson has released Letters to Kurt, which, as the title suggests, are letters to the Nirvana frontsman, but also letters on a variety of topics, from why “sane people are taking drugs to be fucking crazy” to a series of financial troubles that Erlandson had to hurdle.
The letters, Erlandson said during an appearance at Newbury Comics in Cambridge, Massachusetts — a couple of days after an impromptu Hole reunion on April 13 in New York — did not begin as letters to Kurt, but were letters to all of the people in Erlandson’s life who had committed suicide, or who had died too young, but eventually, Erlandson realized that he couldn’t fight that these letters — journal entries that have been reproduced, in most cases, in their original first-draft state — were written to Kurt, “[who] is still here, but he isn’t.”
“These letters were bigger than me, bigger than my relationship with Kurt, and bigger than his death,” Erlandson said. They have no narrative, no time — past, present, and the future collide in coded and obscure references — and “are like dreamscape letters from all corners of my life.”
Near the end of Erlandson’s appearance, during which he played guitar, read from his book, and introduced us to his recent efforts to learn the banjo, a woman and three kids walked in front of Erlandson on their way out of the store.
One of the kids, a girl, probably about 10 or 11, asked a boy, maybe her brother, a bit older, who the guy was. And the kid said he didn’t know.
Which was kind of fitting.
Erlandson has written, in his letters, how the fame and success of the 90s, when everything was dark and humming, has disappeared, and those of them caught in that dark whirlwind were left with pieces of who they had been and who they may never be again. And he has written about trying to figure out who he is, and who he was, and who he may one day be.