In Store Now!
“To love this city, I attest, you must also hate it dispassionately.”
I was introduced to Jessica Hopper through her work as a music journalist, which was compiled in book-form in 2015 with The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic. The essays were succinct. And they sent my timid, bound heart into spasms. She was declaring and demanding space in an arena that relied on the silence of the unsayable but wrote so that every word made me eager for the next.
Her writing cuts deep that way. Male egos stand no chance. Her dissection of R.Kelly, for instance: bloody brilliant.
Needless to say, I love her.
And now she is back, with Night Moves. A book that brings us closer to Jessica, if in a roundabout way, as we witness her journal entries, selected, and carefully curated (though never performing as such). I’ve not been to Chicago, but reading this book I’m transported there. Moving through the early noughts with her as my guide, biking and hip-shaking through a very specific time in an artist’s development.
This book is blurbed as genre-defying, but I don’t see it that way. It’s more like meeting up with your best friend (who is both superior to you in every way and yet radically down-to-earth) and hearing her tell you stories of days gone, but lingering... Hopper navigates the city—its streets and strange encounters—with a seeming effortlessness. She oozes cool with every sip of water (no alcohol for Jessica—bless a good sober ally), bike ride, missed connection, dance move.
And yes, there are dance moves. I was giddy in my seat, giggling, as she describes one in particular—The Hungry Pony: ‘Hands up like you’re about to catch a baseball. Mime a sort of cud-chewing motion, opening your mouth to the beat of the song, or you can also eat for real. Stare blankly at anyone who even so much as glances at you.’
This book is blurbed as genre-defying, but I don’t see it that way. It’s more like meeting up with your best friend
In these pages, teenagers are geniuses. DJ sets are a fantasy, made real. And the library is a space to return to, again and again, because it is a place where everyone belongs.
I love this book in a real, fierce way, and because time has taught me that I am not special, nor unique in my interests, I guarantee others will find a home in this book, too.
Danielle reads mostly contemporary fiction, and creative (memoir, cultural criticism, feminist theory etc.) non-fiction. She reads across time and place and is loyal to those who've captured her heart (Ali Smith, Maggie Nelson, Janet Malcolm, among other brilliant minds). She should probably read more books by men, but she's not losing sleep over it.