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Night Moves

Night Moves

The revolutionary culture critic delivers an edgy, exhilarating tribute to Chicago, friendship, and the music that ultimately formed her voice.

September 2018
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184 pages | 4.5 x 7 |

Written in taut, mesmerizing, often hilarious scenes, Night Moves captures the fierce friendships and small moments that form us all. Drawing on her personal journals from the aughts, Jessica Hopper chronicles her time as a DJ, living in decrepit punk houses, biking to bad loft parties with her friends, exploring Chicago deep into the night. And, along the way, she creates an homage to vibrant corners of the city that have been muted by sleek development. A book birthed in the amber glow of Chicago streetlamps, Night Moves is about a transformative moment of cultural history—and how a raw, rebellious writer found her voice.

  • Introduction
  • friends, bikes, the long night
  • bands, shows, water with ice
  • Chicago
  • Acknowledgments

Chicago, Illinois

Jessica Hopper is a music critic and the author of The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic. She was formerly the Editorial Director at MTV News, and an editor at Pitchfork and Rookie. Her essays have appeared in Best Music Writing for 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2011. Her book The Girls' Guide to Rocking was named one of 2009's Notable Books For Young Readers by the American Library Association.


“Though the entries jump around and there's no sense of time passing. . . As the book goes on the humor is tougher, the point of view sharper, the writer's purchase on her city like a fist closing.”
Rolling Stone

“[Night Moves is] about a special blend of being present and feeling simultaneously nostalgic, looking at a block in any city that you love so much, and thinking of everything that's already changed and will change.”

“These universal stories could be about your city's rock clubs and bookstores. But it's Hopper's scene, and she shares it with sweetness and immediacy, like a long letter from that pal who always helps you schlep your bike home.”

“A love letter to the city, [Night Moves is] also a glimpse into Hopper's friendships and her time navigating the scene that she was documenting in her public work.”
New York Times

“In this lively and funny collection, [Hopper] bears vivid witness to an industrial punk landscape that is both crumbling and evolving beneath her bare feet.”

“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.”

“Hopper is ever-quotable, gut-checkingly deep, and laugh-out-loud funny.”

“[Night Moves is] the perfect book for recapturing that lightning-like feeling of being young and wild and free, of feeling music in every part of your body.”

“A slim memoir born out of a Chicago music critic’s personal journals from the 2000s—complete with bad nights, good punks, bad lofts, good sets, bad weather, good music, and a keen observer’s eye.”
Lit Hub

“Hopper digs into the minutiae of her neighborhood in order to find reasons to love it more. The prose itself feels free, like being young in a city—the length and moodiness of the days, the sudden highs and lows, the importance of seemingly unimportant things.”

“[Night Moves] offers a specific and singular glimpse of the city, and a window into a point in time that now seems long past.”
Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“This lovely and succinct memoir by music critic Jessica Hopper reads as if the coolest girl you know has let you take a peek at her personal diary.”

Night Moves isn’t your typical memoir and maybe that’s because Hopper isn’t your typical writer. Her precise attention to detail, infatuation with the Midwest, and her uncompromising, all-encompassing love of music make this book a joy to read. Though the book is short, your favorite entries will stick with you long after you finish.”
Paste Magazine

“In chapters as meandering as her bike rides and walks through the city, the book’s nonlinear structure enhances the sense of discovery that Hopper herself feels as she finds her way and her voice.”
Chicago Tribune

“A funny, elegantly written book of essays about [Hopper's] life and the punk scene in Chicago in the 2000s.”
The Stranger

“An enliving, heartening read, wriggling with its own vitality as irresistibly as On the Road.”
3:AM Magazine

Night Moves revels in subtle but wholly Chicago moments. . . Hopper understands her fleeting interactions with both friends and strangers as representative of the rhythm of the city—and she often describes them with an agile sense of humor.”
Chicago Reader

“The writing feels immediate, as if it were jotted down right after Hopper got home from one of her urban adventures.”
The Capital Times

“Hopper paints a vivid impression of what the city was like in the mid-aughts for a creative writer coming into her own.”
Chicago Magazine

“Companionship is the primary language through which Hopper maps Chicago and her experiences within it. . . Her patchwork of insights brings truth at a distance — the city itself is nothing without the way we talk about it.”
Passion of the Weiss

“[Night Moves] reads like a wry, deeply felt love letter to friends, bikes, and Chicago night air.”
The Current

“[Night Moves] does something we need books to do in 2018—it gives readers a neutral space to kick around thoughts of their own glory days by omitting dates and fame, root causes of anxiety.”
Houston Chronicle

“The poetry and absurdity of existence are constant companions in the pages of Night Moves.”

“A charming ode to friendship, aging and what it means to truly love the place you call home.”
Juan Vidal, NPR

“A whirl of gigs, clubs, day jobs, zines, record shops, lame parties, showing up at a Hold Steady video shoot, toting your broken bike through the streets, watching the industrial zone turn into yuppie jizz discos.”
Rolling Stone, Best Music Books of 2018

“In [Hopper's] words, seemingly normal everyday things take on a colorful and lively turn.”
Brooklyn Based

“Hopper might be focused on Chicago in Night Moves, but anyone who's ever loved local music will find themselves in this book.”
Pacific Northwest Inlander

“Hopper's diaristic memoir is…a celebration of life, rebellion, music, and friendship, and it'll make nostalgics of anyone who reads it.”
Nylon, Best Books to Give

“A really joyful portrait of cycling around the city, going to punk shows, seeing gentrification happening and being aware that you're part of it, mourning what's disappearing, but also valuing the new.”
Five Books

“Hopper's writing is impressionistic and anecdotal (with the sort of eye for detail which makes every scene jump off the page and appear as a set piece built right in front of you).”
Passion of the Weiss

Night Moves is a dozen thorny roses for the city that keeps blowing its windy-ness beneath her darkly comic wings.”

“The equivalent of a cinema vérité film, with scenes slipping in and out of focus and a chronology deliberately jumbled…[Night Moves] is a series of gritty, unpolished, candid vignettes that allow readers to glimpse a city experienced by a young woman who is both part of the underground music scene and an observer of it, with a wary eye and wry humor.”
Library Journal

“Hopper collects the detritus and reassembles a city strung along a train bridge and overheard musics…Turning her ear to sonic echoes, Hopper remakes that Chicago here—that city already far gone.”
Rain Taxi

“[Night Moves] may be best evoked in an image of Hopper and a friend walking their bikes home late at night, trying to think up an old band's back catalogue: 'Aging longers waxing nerdy in the night light.'”
Adroit Journal

“Jessica Hopper opens the window to a past that might have been my past, or your past, or the past of someone you know. It is a book of poems, it is a memoir, it is a living journal, all at once. This is the best writing—personal, but with two arms held wide open to invite you in. Night Moves is a book teeming with generosity. It gives and gives and asks only for an eager imagination in return.”
Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us

“In this vivid collection of snapshots from Hopper’s life as a beneficent renegade rock girl, she manages to communicate so much more than what happened and what she thought about it. She takes you with her, on every steamy summer bike ride, to every jukebox and rock show and dive bar in her wild, sweet young life.”
Lizzy Goodman, author of Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011

“A series of beautiful, impressionistic dispatches from a Chicago that no longer exists, Night Moves captures Jessica Hopper’s metamorphosis from doyenne of the Midwestern punk-lit demimonde into a significant American cultural voice. Charting a scuffling journey through the city of big shoulders, Hopper details its concrete meadows, its shattering defeats and daily miracles.”
Bob Mehr, author of the New York Times bestseller Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements

“Jessica Hopper's Night Moves reads like a diary—immediate and urgent. Hopper and her friends prowl the streets of Chicago on bicycles, always moving, surrounded by both the city and a cocoon of occupied affection. It's full of music and pets and friendship and made me feel as if the heating bills in Chicago would be worth it, if one could have this sort of busy, free life. The book exists in that space between fact and fiction, between novel and memoir—but I knew right away that every word was true.”
Emma Straub, best-selling author of Modern Lovers

“A gorgeous paean to indie-punk, the aughts, Chicago, and thriving as the only girl at the sausage fest. Night Moves explores day-to-day life as an art form — a life lived in that weird gulch between corporate cog and full-on flaneur, pulsing toward a goal with nothing but friends, bikes, illuminated bar signs and the occasional sublime moment to keep you going.”
Alina Simone, author of Madonnaland: And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom



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