It’s interesting – in trying to write a love letter to her father with Good Stuff Jennifer Grant ended up making the reader think less of them both. Rosanne Cash takes a different path. In Composed Cash is at pains to be honest, about herself, about her father, about her conflicted feelings. Her fearless style reminds me of a song lyric.
“Buddy, it’s as simple as that / When you see past all of the crap.” – Simple Kid
Rosanne Cash absolutely sees past the crap. While completely unfamiliar with her musical work, I left the book interested in exploring it. She’s a likeable narrator, a woman you’d want to spend a day hanging out with. Her memoir is not a linear or exhaustive work. She focuses on brief periods of her life and her feelings about them before turning the light to a completely different time. She does not exploit a life made for exploitation, reserving what she should and illuminating what she wants. I respect her all the more for protecting her children from a blow by blow account of her relationships. I respect her for confessing her frustrations as a parent and as a child. What emerges from Composed is a portrait of a woman finding herself while multiple lives pull at her. The life she’s set her feet on suits her, the city she’s chosen to live in is a good one for maintaing perspective. Her parents emerge as people sometimes overwhelmed by their circumstances yet leaving their children a legacy of love. Not an easy achievement, and one that requires the child to meet them more than halfway.
For me the most resonant passage is during a trip to Ireland. Rosanne happens to meet a living link to her father in the form of a shopkeeper. I have had those moments, I have had a letter from a woman who played in the street a hundred years ago with my lost family member. She had pictures too. It’s an amazing and inexplicable experience to find yourself somewhere you didn’t really plan to be only to find your family waiting for you. Truly a memoir rather than an autobiography, Composed is out in paperback next month and it’s worth spending some time with.