Cage lover that I am, I entered the book dubious that she could unpack the work of Cage the composer, no matter how well read she is in his journals. I was nitpicking my way through the text, wondering why she was breaking up the Cage life-story to tell us about a centuries-old permutation of Buddhism even before the part of the story where Cage makes his own turn toward Zen. Was the book going to be this reductive and deterministic throughout, I wondered, by reading all of Cage’s many permutations of mind as inexorably tied to his eventual Zen awakening? But after page 200—say, at the point when Larson brought Cage’s first “happening” seamlessly into conversation with contemporaneous events like D.T. Suzuki’s Columbia University lectures (which Cage attended) and the creation of “Mother of God” by Robert Rauschenberg (who had fallen into Cage’s retinue)—I just started writing Wow in the book’s margins. The whole strange mesh of it was speaking to me, and I stopped keeping score of how many times Larson missed or muffled a minor point—like her incorrect claim that CD players have always replaced turntables in modern performances of Cage’s earliest percussion pieces. I merely began to treasure the odd texture of her finely synthesized enthusiasms, and what it could teach me about works I already thought I knew pretty damn well.