BOOK OF THE WEEK: THE FIRST COLLECTION OF CRITICISM BY A LIVING FEMALE ROCK CRITIC BY JESSICA HOPPER

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With this premiere volume, spanning from her punk fanzine roots to her landmark piece on R. Kelly’s past, The First Collection leaves no doubt why the New York Times has called Hopper’s work “influential.” Not merely a selection of two decades of Hopper’s most engaging, thoughtful and humorous writing, this book serves as a document of the last 20 years of American music making and the shifting landscape of music consumption. Through this vast range of album reviews, essays, columns, interviews, and oral histories, Hopper chronicles what it is to be truly obsessed with music, the ideas in songs and albums, how fantasies of artists become complicated by real life, and just what happens when you follow that obsession into muddy festival fields, dank basements, corporate offices or court records.

In one particular story, she recalls how, in Minneapolis in the early ’90s, “lots of boys thought going to the woods with a girl and regaling her with an hour and a half of Dinosaur Jr. trivia was a perfectly acceptable courtship ritual.” Her memories of that band’s early records are “inextricably tied to memories of some dude that never liked me back.”

The book also journeys through the truths of Riot Grrrl’s empowering insurgence, decamps to Gary, IN, on the eve of Michael Jackson’s death, explodes the grunge-era mythologies of Nirvana and Courtney Love, and examines emo’s rise. The pieces in The First Collection send us digging deep into our record collections, searching to re-hear what we loved and hated, makes us reconsider the art, trash, and politics Hopper illuminates, helping us to make sense of what matters to us most.

Featherproof Books

9780983186335

Music/History & Criticism

Available now

Paperback, $24.95

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