…wise, honest and utterly engaging…Rosanne Cash isn't just a writer and performer of songs, she's a writer, period…[a] beautiful and stirring book, of which one thing can be said for sure: Dad would have been proud of it, and her.
The Washington Post
This work is a rare treat, as Cash, firstborn to country music legend Johnny Cash, is not only a hereditary celebrity musician, having made scores of albums and #1 singles, but a terrific writer in her own right. Indeed, her memoir is an intensely reflective, carefully hewn chronicle of her coming-into-her-own as a writer. Born in 1955 to Johnny Cash's littleknown first wife, Vivian, just at the breakthrough of her father's music career with the hit "Cry, Cry, Cry," Cash describes herself as a "pudgy, withdrawn girl" already aware that she was "a counterfeit with a strange, hidden life." That included an anxious mother, three younger sisters, and a father who was frequently absent and erratic, due to his abuse at the time of amphetamines and barbiturates. From growing up in Southern California to visits to her father's house in Hendersonville, Tenn., Cash idolized her father and rarely questioned his authority, such as sending her off to work at CBS Records in London at age 20. At Vanderbilt University, she studied with Walter Sullivan; toyed with Method acting in L.A.; then recorded four demos in Munich, Germany, for Ariola Records, away from the scrutiny of comparison with her father. Cash depicts pensively her early delight in analogue recording and honing her writing craft. Despite an inordinate preponderance of funeral eulogies and some odd structuring toward the end, Cash's memoir sheds clear light on her talent and drive. (Aug.)
"Beautifully written meditations on love, death, family and redemption from the celebrated songwriter…Intimate vignettes writ small fill this account, which illuminates her close, complicated relationships with both her mother and her father…Unflinchingly honest and incisive…Warmth and humor characterize the resilience of the author's spirit. An excellent memoir that ends on an encouraging note: 'More to come.' "
– Kirkus (Starred Review)
"This work is a rare treat…Cash's memoir sheds clear light on her talent and drive."
– Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"[An] engaging memoir…Compelling…Moving."
"Cash's exquisite songwriting talent serves her well as an author…The musician's meditations on the powerful moments that shape a life…border on the poetic."
– Country Living Magazine
"Trust me, you're going to dig this: Composed is a wise and winning chronicle of the making of an artist."
– Colson Whitehead, author of Sag Harbor
"Rosanne Cash's memoir Composed is a classic folk song, full of real heartbreak after real heartbreak, deep love and desperate loss, and the courageous struggle to make sense of the human experience through the beauty and truth of Creative Art."
– Kris Kristofferson
"This is an extraordinarily and dauntingly honest book."
– Elvis Costello
"Book clubs everywhere, here's your next selection! Rosanne Cash has written a lush and glorious memoir that is wise and knowing, humorous and full of hope. The scenes from her life play through like a song, with operatic twists and quiet turns that inevitably lead her home. Composed is powerful and whole and completely unforgettable."
– Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series
"An eloquent testimony to the power of song, love, and human resilience. Rosanne writes about life with insight, elegance, and an artist's open heart."
– Daniel J. Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music
"Rosanne Cash is a gifted writer who has led an extraordinary life—but what stays with you from this beautiful book is how she makes the particular universal. She makes us feel the contradictory emotions of being someone's child, someone's lover, and someone's parent. She reminds us of the ecstasy of falling in love and the heartbreak of bad endings. She shares the hardest lessons—facing mortality in our loved ones and in ourselves—as eloquently as she makes us appreciate the thousand small joys in this passing world. Composed is more than the story of her life. It's the story of all our lives."
– Bill Flanagan, author of Evening's Empire
"Composed carries the perfect title. With her cool, crisp prose, Cash never makes a drama out of a crisis. This is no surprise to fans of her nonfiction writing and I envy anyone making the discovery. For lovers of music and literature alike."
– Wesley Stace, author of By George and Misfortune
Beautifully written meditations on love, death, family and redemption from the celebrated songwriter. As the title alludes, this is very much a "portrait of the artist" memoir, in which the author shows not the slightest interest in dishing dirt or settling scores. A country hitmaker who has received considerable critical acclaim, Cash is also a previously published author of the short-story collection Bodies of Water (1996). Yet for some she will always be foremost the daughter of Johnny Cash. Here she leaves no question that the father she knew was quite different than the legend portrayed in the 2005 film, Walk the Line, which she calls "an egregious oversimplification of our family's private pain, writ large and Hollywood-style." By contrast, intimate vignettes writ small fill this account, which illuminates her close, complicated relationships with both her mother and her father-whom she remembers as "strange, dark, and intensely distracted" when she was the young daughter of a dissolving marriage, yet a pillar of support and inspiration through the majority of her life. The tension at the center of both her career and her memoir is her realization that "I wanted success, certainly, but I wanted it without the merciless exposure of a public life." Unflinchingly honest and incisive on matters she chooses to address, Cash provides little detail about her marriage to and divorce from country artist Rodney Crowell, whose collaboration with her proved pivotal in the careers of both. A generosity of spirit informs her portraits of friends from decades past, fellow musicians, husband and collaborator John Leventhal and the children who have enriched the life of their mother. Despite the spate of recent deaths she has mourned, and the traumas of brain surgery, miscarriage and a mysterious loss of voice that she recounts in these pages, warmth and humor characterize the resilience of the author's spirit. An excellent memoir that ends on an encouraging note: "More to come."Agent: Merrilee Heifetz/Writers House