Natalie Tyler's Reviews > Composed: A Memoir

Composed by Rosanne Cash
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's review
Oct 23, 2010

really liked it
Read in October, 2010

Rosanne Cash, the oldest child of Johnny cash, is 55 years old right now and has had a solid career in what I might call a country/folk/independent crossover style. She has written some excellent songs.

"Composed" is a “memoir” and not an autobiography, so it might defy expectations for those who want a straightforward, chronological listing of events as opposed to a thoughtful rumination about life and loss. The strength of the book is its penetrating thoughtful excavations of memories and its reasonably impartial character analyses of her Cash’s celebrated family members.

Intelligent and lyrical, this book eschews tabloid mentality. It does not chronicle substance abuse or stays at rehab or conflicts with the local constabulary. Cash in more interested in thought than in thrills. This intelligence has made her transcend from the vagueness of New Age beliefs into a wise and analytical woman. She believes much more in seeking out explanations for human behavior rather than saying that “It was meant to happen” or “God had special plans for me.”

As a singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash has typically preferred the subtle and the substantial over the glitzy and the glossy. This memoir is subtle and substantial. It avoids gossip and there’s no “trash-talk”. Cash is unsparing about herself without being dramatic. The sections of the book that deal with the overwhelming losses of family members, her difficult brain surgery, and living through 9/11 in New York are honest without being hysterical. The past decade has been difficult for Rosanne Cash but years have given her the philosophical mind. I hope that the next decade is far better and I also hope that she writes more.

Finally, "composed" is a brilliant title. Cash has indeed composed herself into a wise woman and this book looks at the influences that have composed her life. The title refers to her writing and also to the fact that she is a person who has become calm, collected, and self-possessed--she is composed..

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