By Jessica Hopper, 165 pgs.
Jessica Hopper’s Night Moves operates in the dimension of impression: these microbursts of pithy sentiment, culled from Hopper’s 2004-2008ish journals, include dates, but don’t need to. Her book is more about an epoch than specifics, a time when Hopper (who wrote a column for the dearly departed Punk Planet and authored the anthology The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic a few years back) was putting out her excellent, hilarious fanzine Hit It Or Quit It, playing in bands, doing PR, and being the only sober person in a room full of drunk, stoned scene types who put plastic over their windows to keep the cold air from seeping into the kitchen of another janky Chicago punk house. By dint of your reading this review in this zine, it’s likely that you live, or have lived, in such a place.
More, though, than just the identification with the general scenario, Hopper’s vignettes weave in specific details. It’s easy to remember times of yore through her recollections, even if the reader’s details are a little different. Like the party I attended right after Dear You came out where the sounds of Led Zeppelin filled the crowded kitchen, and I first thought “Zeppelin rules,” then “wait, they’re not punk,” then “wait, I’m in a Jawbreaker song.” These vignettes are specific in ways that Razorcake readers will find familiar, if not comforting.
All told, the pieces of Night Moves gesture towards a time that eludes straight narrative. There’s no way to construct a linear description of the day you get married, say, because it’s so intense, a collection of luminous moments to be remembered in snippets rather than chronology. The best times and the worst times are like this. Rather than bogging readers down with the mundanity of the everyday, Hopper cuts right to the good stuff again and again, like a Lungfish record. Unlike Higgs and company, though, there’s no repetition here, just a collection of lovely moments depicting a time in a place with a tight group of friends. Real names be proof, you dig? –Michael T. Fournier (University of Texas Press, utexas.press.com)