Field Study
I Live a Life Like Yours

The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

9780374722630 fc
Paperback, MCD × FSGO, 2021

Jessica Hopper

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"Jessica Hopper's criticism is a trenchant and necessary counterpoint not just on music, but on our culture at large." —Annie Clark, St. Vincent

An acclaimed, career-spanning collection from a fiercely feminist and revered contemporary rock critic, reissued with new material

Throughout her career, spanning more than two decades, Jessica Hopper, a revered and pioneering music critic, has examined women recording and producing music, in all genres, through an intersectional feminist lens. The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic features oral histories of bands like Hole and Sleater Kinney, interviews with the women editors of 1970s-era Rolling Stone, and intimate conversations with iconic musicians such as Björk, Robyn, and Lido Pimienta. Hopper journeys through the truths of Riot Grrrl's empowering insurgence; decamps to Gary, Indiana, on the eve of Michael Jackson's death; explodes the grunge-era mythologies of Nirvana and Courtney Love; and examines the rise of emo. The collection also includes profiles and reviews of some of the most-loved, and most-loathed, women artists making music today: Fiona Apple, Kacey Musgraves, M.I.A., Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey.

In order for the music industry to change, Hopper writes, we need “the continual presence of radicalized women . . . being encouraged and given reasons to stay, rather than diminished by the music which glues our communities together.” The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic—published to acclaim in 2015, and reissued now with new material and an introduction by Samantha Irby—is a rallying cry for women-centered history and storytelling, and a groundbreaking, obsessive, razor-sharp panorama of music writing crafted by one of the most influential critics of her generation.

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Jessica Hopper

  • The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic enters the turbulence of 2021 as furiously edifying as ever. It ends on a breathtaking afterword that proves, while this might not actually be the first collection of its type, for a generation of punks and radicals – especially those of marginalised genders fighting for their place in the world – it remains the most essential."

    Kristy Diaz, The Skinny

  • [The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic] is by turns loose and warm and finicky and outraged, and its best pieces are more observant than 94 percent of the first novels that have come my way this year. 

    Dwight Garner, The New York Times

  • "An airtight case for why the professional critic still matters, and why it is a thrill to spend time in the presence of someone whose job it is to care so much and so intelligently."

    Kathleen Rooney, Chicago Tribune
  • "Prolific and inimitable writer Hopper lays bare a storied career and a true gift for music journalism . . . Hopper’s writing spans generations and genres . . . [She] is an artist whose curiosity about creativity has produced a stunning body of work, both in breadth and skill, and this is her lyrical, observant magnum opus.”

    Booklist (starred review)