“I didn’t decide to write this book, it was already written,” says Jessica Hopper, a Chicago based music critic with a career encompassing over the last two decades, a time when she not only wrote for New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, Buzz Feed and Bookforum, was an editor at Pitchfork and Rookie and editorial director at MTV News and still managed to keep extensive notes about those times.
“I was a very prodigious chronicler of my life,” says Hopper, who started writing when she was 15 and is the author of the recently released Night Moves, a book that curates scenes from her career as a writer in the music business.
Though she didn’t have formal training at that time, her parents were both journalists and Hopper says her impetus was that you learn by doing.
“If you wanted to be something, you just did it,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about music but what I liked and didn’t like. I wanted to be real. If it didn’t go to the heart, that wasn’t what I wanted for my writing. I work really hard and I’ve always worked really hard, that’s how I work, I keep my head down and just keep writing.”
Describing Night Moves as being shots of memories and feeling, Hopper drew from diaries and remembrances of those times as well as her published works.
“Some of the pieces in my book are ephemeral,” she says, adding that when she started reviewing her past journaling and published pieces there were parts that she didn’t remember at all. “There are definitely things that I was surprised to re-encounter in my young life.”
For as long as she’s been in the business, Hopper says she doesn’t think of the big picture when she’s doing something.
“I just do my best and put it out there.”
What: Jessica Hopper has several Chicago book events.
When & Where:
Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m., Wilmette Public Library, 1242 Wilmette Ave., Wilmette, IL. Sponsored by The Book Stall, 847-446-8880; thebookstall.com
Friday, May 10 at 7 p.m. Author Conversation with singer-songwriter and social activist Ani DiFranco & Jessica Hopper. Wilson Abbey, 935 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL. Sponsored by Women & Children First, 773-769-9299; womenandchildrenfirst.com