Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Begin Again: A Biography of John Cage Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 19, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"Begin Again is a much more nuanced picture of Cage’s personal life than has currently been available . . . What emerges most powerfully is Cage’s enormous capacity for work, together with his exceptional self-discipline as an artist and his willingness to approach every new challenge with a ‘beginner’s mind.’ For this alone it is a book worthy of being read by anyone, young or old, who is faced with the daunting task of a new creative beginning." —John Adams, The New York Times Book Review
"The life of Cage is meticulously told." —The New Yorker
"Outstanding." —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Arty connoisseurs might find the definitive John Cage biography, Begin Again, by Kenneth Silverman, thrilling."
–James Hannaham, Village Voice, Holiday Gift Books for Any Kind of Troublesome Friend
"Excellent, thoroughly researched . . . The first in-depth, detailed account of Cage's rich and colorful life . . . Silverman's prose is lively and occasionally mirrors Cage's own wit." --Library Journal (starred review)
“Since his death almost two decades ago, Cage's influence has increased to the point where he is now seen as one of the major creative spirits of his age. This marvelous biography brings into focus the many elusive facets of his music, and situates them against the background of his personal life and the seething cultural currents of the era.” —John Ashbery
“Silverman’s artful narrative lays bare Cage’s compositional processes, aesthetic posturing and the cross-cultural philosophical underpinnings to his work with a clarity that musicologists and art historians have yet to achieve. Not just an exemplary biography, but a significant contribution to the cultural history of American music.”—Kirkus, starred review
“John Cage, whose pieces dazzled and confounded audiences for six decades, hardly seems the easiest of subjects for the biographer, but this is a well-researched, coherent, quite readable account of the composer and his work.” —Alan Moores, Booklist
“John Cage, a master of musical modernism, meets Kenneth Silverman, a master of the biographical art. Cage, the most innovative composer of recent times, comes freshly alive in Kenneth Silverman’s magisterial biography. Silverman distills an astonishing amount of information in an engaging, fluid narrative that brings alive every facet of John Cage’s life—his loves, his friendships, his career, and his path-blazing experiments with sound. Cage expanded music, and Silverman considerably expands our knowledge of Cage by interweaving fascinating new details of his everyday life with insightful accounts of his musical maturation. A gripping, ceaselessly revelatory biography.” —David S. Reynolds, author of Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson and Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography.
“Begin Again is a glittering manifestation of the biographer’s craft. With impeccable aim and pitch-perfect tone, Kenneth Silverman has curated the crowded, cacophonous, frenetic and fractured details of modernist master John Cage’s life into a witty and sensuous literary exhibition. Readers will feel privileged to attend the gala opening of this cosmopolitan show—performance art between two covers!” —Neil Baldwin, author of Man Ray: American Artist
Top Customer Reviews
This book can serve as further reading material for those who want to know a bit more about Cage (mostly as a person). For those who are looking for a better biography of John Cage, I would recommend David Revill's "The Roaring Silence" (his approach is not very objective and there seem to be some minute errors in chronology but the information is much more relevant). Apart from Cage's own "Silence" and "A Year from Monday," I would highly recommend "Conversing with Cage" by Richard Kostelanetz: it is a book compiled from many interviews given by Cage and contains lots of good information (in Cage's own words).
(1) An overly leering tone. The author seems to have an adolescent fascination with sexual matters. Most adult readers, however, don't really want to know about individuals' pubic area moles or choice of specific sexual positions.
(2) Nothing in this book convinces me that the author has ever heard a single note of Cage's music -- or any other music, for that matter. (Of course I'm sure he must have, but it doesn't come through in his book.) There is nothing indicating any depth of musical understanding, or even a particular love of music on the author's part.
(3) Too much interest in journalistic reviews. I haven't counted to prove the point, but I suspect more words are devoted to describing what critics wrote about Cage's music than to the music itself.
(4) An apparent unwillingness to understand anything remotely technical. At various places in the book, the author refers to semi-technical engineering and music matters with a baffled tone more appropriate for an anti-intellectual making fun of "big words" than for an NYU professor.
(5) There is little if anything new in this book. Nothing suggestive of reflective probing or careful original research. Why did it need to be written?
John Cage was a fascinating man, and I met him in 1987, to interview him for a journal I worked on about the I Ching. We discussed his compositional process, which was, in fact, quite sterile. But he was one of the most fascinating people I've ever met. Just sitting and talking with him for an hour, in has apartment on 18th street, was a moving experience. (And I wasn't, then, very much interested in his music.)
Everyone who's met Cage says the same thing: when you spoke with him, you were his entire world. He was a wise man - at least in his later years - friendly, open, generous, and willing to talk to almost everyone. I was looking, in this biography, for something that would help me understand how he became that way. (There are some clues in Where the Heart Beats; John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists; see my review of that book.)
This said, if you do want all of the major signposts of Cage's career, as a composer, writer, and visual artist, this is a good book. It's readable and interesting, but it just doesn't get to the heart of the man.
The main problem with any book about a composer or artist is the same as the problem I see when watching a TV show about cooking--you can't taste the food, you can't hear the music. That being said, Silverman delivers an extremely well-written biography of a very important artist.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In the mid 1980's, I attended a John Cage concert in Detroit at Orchestra Hall with a friend. Mr. Cage was there and did one of his reading-guttural-vocal pieces. Read morePublished 12 months ago by H. Williams
Great book on Cage, new info and a great read. Thanks so much.Published 12 months ago by Robert Leonard Moran
I am totally enjoying this book. I have studied Cage's music for years, and enjoyed his artwork as well. Read morePublished on May 23, 2011 by George M. Kahn
Silverman's book offers very little about Cage's music or the circumstances surrounding the music. He leaves out important stories such as the reason for the creation of the... Read morePublished on January 1, 2011 by Robert McClure