Beyond Teen Spirit: Learning From Kurt Cobain's Mistakes

Mar 25, 2013

Nicole J. Georges' latest book is Calling Dr. Laura.

My mother picked me up from school in early April 1994. I was barely a teenager, lips stretched over braces as I focused my attention on the radio dial, seeking an alternative station when my mom delivered some news: "Oh, your buddy died."

"Who is 'my buddy?' "

"Uhhh ... whatshisname ... the screaming, you know, the blonde. ..."

She was talking about Kurt Cobain.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin indulges in Jessica Beck’s latest Donut Shop Mystery, Illegally Iced.

Title: Illegally Iced

Author: Jessica Beck

Pages: 277

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ISBN: 978-1250001078

And read Kristin's full review on

In January 2011, writer Emily Rapp was a happy new mother when she and her husband found themselves in a pediatric ophthalmologist's office with their 9-month-old son, Ronan. They were worried about Ronan's development and had gone to the eye doctor to rule out vision problems as the culprit. Checking Ronan's retinas, the doctor saw "cherry-red spots on the backs of his retinas," Rapp writes in her new memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World. Ronan's diagnosis that day was Tay-Sachs disease, a genetic and degenerative condition that is always fatal. There is no cure.

In 2011, Irish milliner Philip Treacy made waves across the world when he designed 36 different hats for the royal wedding. Remember Princess Beatrice's unforgettable hat? Treacy made that.

There's nothing particularly dynamic about Livia Manera and William Karel's documentary Philip Roth: Unmasked. For some 90 minutes, it's pretty much just one guy talking. But what a guy!

Roth is one of the greatest living novelists, possibly even the greatest. He can also be an inflammatory presence, eliciting outrage almost as much as admiration, particularly among women who see him as a misogynist.

At a hearing in Washington on March 6, Attorney General Eric Holder admitted to senators why it has been hard to go after big bank executives:

"It does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."

"I am so stressed out" is a common refrain these days, but if you think of stress as a pervasive fact of life, consider this: Before 1976, The New York Times had never published an article about stress as we understand it today. Our idea of stress — as a personal, internal problem — is a recent invention.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin sets out on a classic spy mission with the 1941 thriller Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes.

Title: Above Suspicion

Author: Helen MacInnes

Pages: 343

Publisher: Titan Books

ISBN: 978-1781161531

And read Kristin's full review on

Of all the posters plastered around Facebook's Silicon Valley headquarters — "Move Fast and Break Things," "Done Is Better Than Perfect" and "Fail Harder" — Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has a favorite: "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?"

"[It's] something that I think is really important and I think very motivating," Sandberg tells NPR's Renee Montagne. " ... I wrote in my book, what I would do if I wasn't afraid is, I would speak out more on behalf of women."

Back in 1988, it wasn't until the 62nd round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft that the Los Angeles Dodgers finally picked Mike Piazza. Nobody expected him to make it in the big leagues. But he did. He made his major league debut with the Dodgers on Sept. 1, 1992, and he hit his first home run just 12 days later.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin braces herself for the end of the world in author Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Time Untime.

Title: Time Untime

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Pages: 414

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

ISBN: 978-0312546618

And read Kristin's full review on

If you've ever shot the breeze, had a heart-to-heart or bent somebody's ear — in fact, if you've ever talked at all — odds are you've used an idiom. These sometimes bizarre phrases are a staple of conversation, and more than 10,000 of them are collected in the latest edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, which came out this week.

It was no less than the master of dystopian fiction, George Orwell, who noted in a 1946 essay that "political language has to consist largely of euphemism. ... Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air ...

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin explores New York City’s underground with Adam Mansbach’s Rage Is Back.

Title: Rage Is Back

Author: Adam Mansbach

Pages: 304

Publisher: Viking Press

ISBN: 978-0670026128

And read Kristin's full review on

André Brink is one of the most well-known anti-apartheid writers in South Africa. His latest novel Philida, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is set in 1832 in the South African Cape, just two years before emancipation.

The title character lodges a complaint against her master, Francois Brink, who is also the father of her four children. He'd promised her freedom, but then backs out and marries a wealthy white woman.

What happens when we die? Wouldn't we all like to know. We can't bring people back from the dead to tell us — but in some cases, we almost can. Resuscitation medicine is now sometimes capable of reviving people after their heart has stopped beating and their brain has flat-lined; Dr. Sam Parnia, a critical care doctor and director of resuscitation research at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, studies what these people experience in that period after their heart stops and before they're resuscitated. This includes visions such as bright lights and out-of-body experiences.

When Emily Bazelon was in eighth grade, her friends fired her. Now a senior editor for Slate, Bazelon writes in her new book, Sticks and Stones: "Two and a half decades later, I can say that wryly: it happened to plenty of people, and look at us now, right? We survived. But at the time, in that moment, it was impossible to have that kind of perspective."

In Sticks and Stones, Bazelon explores teen bullying, what it is and what it isn't, and how the rise of the Internet and social media make the experience more challenging.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin travels to the New World with Rhys Bowen’s Murphy’s Law.

Title: Murphy’s Law

Author: Rhys Bowen

Pages: 226

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks        

ISBN: 978-1250014085

And read Kristin's full review on