Jessica Hopper: Night Moves (University of Texas Press)


Jessica Hopper was and is the embodiment of everything cool that was the early 1990s punk rock  l scene. Her zine, Hit It or Quit It, was a fun, funny, smart read, one that embodied everything exciting and real about being a teenager, and capturing the zeitgeist and the hopefulness of youth.  Idealistic? Logical? Questioning? Dreamy? Human? Sarcastic? Angry? All of these things and more. Her passion and love of music inspired yours truly, and I have no problem saying that I wouldn’t be who I am had I not discovered her work.

While youth must be served, you can’t stay young forever. Fortunately, Hopper may have grown up, but she has never lost her youthful edge, and she still writes with the same passion of her younger days, but with a wistfulness and reflection that gives her work a level of wisdom that is unsurpassed and undeniable. Her writing can still crack you up or make you think or piss you off, but irrespective of how what she writes makes you feel, at least you can’t say she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

Night Moves, her newest book, is a bit different from her previous collection.  Instead of showing off the best of her work, she has taken to sharing her diaries, collected from the years 2004 to 2008. Although it is never explicitly stated, one can sort of come to the realization that it probably highlights the time between when she turned 30 and when she had her first child. The diary like entries are not chronological, so Night Moves should not be read as such.

If you’re looking for her rumination on music, you might initially be sorely disappointed. Don’t let it bother you, though,  as there is a LOT of music to be found here. You can hear it in the background of the parties she’s visiting. You can hear it on the streets as she hangs out with a new generation of teenagers. You can feel it as she opens up a used book to find that its previous owner was Edith Frost. You can feel it as she excitedly describes the opening math rock band no one’s ever heard of, no one will ever here because they break up the next day, but it doesn’t matter because at this moment, they are the Greatest. Band. Ever. And it’s too bad you weren’t there to experience it. But Jessica was, and you can feel every wonderful moment thanks to her wonderful and passionate writing.

Night Moves is a love letter to the first part of adulthood and to the Chicago neighborhood that is passing in the memory. Hopper has grown up in the public–ish eye, and her documentation of her growth has always been a pleasure to read. I’m honestly looking forward to her reflections on parenthood and middle age, because I’m absolutely confident they too will be a delight to read.

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