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Pitchfork Senior Editor compiles

Reviewed by Neph Basedow, October 16, 2015, Music

Pitchfork Senior Editor Jessica Hopper introduces herself in the first chapter of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic as having a "void" in her guts that "can only be filled by songs." The Minneapolis native's album reviews, interviews, columns, and essays are first-person works as heavy on stylized familiarity as objectivity, but it's the Chicago dweller's linking of contemporary criticism with a broader cultural connection via a sui generis female panorama that's noteworthy. The 39-year-old, who self-published a fanzine at 16, waxes knowledgeable about riot grrrls because she participated in that early-Nineties feminist wave. A particularly memorable chapter revisits her 2010 tinyluckygenius blog, deeming wistful, grunge-era, better-back-when feminism as counterproductive. "Riot grrrl wasn't the end result, it was the catalyst," she writes, dreading that if Alanis Morissette remains today's truth-speaking icon, then "punk feminism is in much deeper shit" than ever. Her column choices reflect a time capsule of issues, including a frank 2007 entry noting journalists' essential quality vs. quantity work shift (less essays, more blurbs), necessary alternate methods of making money ("Look for my byline on the inflight mag"), and her year-end list stance ("Hierarchy is bunk"). Similar to music's many memoirs du jour, the notion of a collection of one's own work feels meta. Yet like Hopper's 2009 debut, The Girls' Guide to Rocking, the mother of two (sons) again delivers an assertive and empowered volume – a book that fervidly screams "girl power" sans a mention of the term. (TBF appearance: Sat., Oct. 17, 2pm, Kirkus Reviews Tent at 13th & Colorado)

The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

by Jessica Hopper
Featherproof, 201 pp., $17.95

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