Jessica Hopper has been a prominent figure in music journalism for a hot minute now, but Night Moves is a diversion from that M.O.—though it has all the trimmings of good music journalism, i.e. rich descriptions of songs, musicians and culturally relevant figures, and shows, which ultimately serve the work incredibly well—it is first and foremost memoir. Night Moves is a loving portrait of Midwest punk and punk-adjacency, with warm sketches of the people and places Hopper encountered. The novel is tinted with the glow only time can provide, even the disappointing, difficult moments remembered with fondness.
The hard times do not dull this warmth; if anything they represent the “Minnesota Nice” phenomena of Midwesterners seeming all the more welcoming in spite of the brutal winters. And Hopper too waxes poetic about “these Midwestern states, so sturdy and dirty and loving you back” (emphasis mine), her stories told with near reverence for the Midwest (Chicago) in vignettes. They do not have to be long to invoke deep emotion and the well-worn (but certainly well-loved) poetics punks so often fall into. A slim volume, Night Moves packs several years into their most intense and fiercely beautiful moments. It is an exercise in microcosm, each brief encounter telling more of the story than it seems its fair share should be. Perfect for folks who love Chicago or the Midwest at large, lament the winter, or just need to wax nostalgic for a moment. –Jimmy Cooper (University Of Texas Press, utpress.utexas.edu)