I got this book, Grace Like a River, last summer when it came out. I read about it somewhere before it came out and I had my mom hit Books-A-Million to pick it up for me as soon as it was available.
It is the autobiographical work of Christopher Parkening and his concert career. As an avid Parkening fan (I have 12 of his CDs), I had to have the book. Though I knew quite a bit about the man, I was pleased to learn about what drives him as a musician and how he came back from retirement to fight his way to the top again.
A brief synopsis is that he was an accomplished musician on the world’s stage. He wanted to be retired by the age of 30 and living in a cabin in Montana so that he could fish full time. He accomplished that and thought his life would be complete. Of course, it was not. He was living for himself alone with no care for anyone or anything else.
He not only stopped playing professionally, but he pretty much gave up the guitar completely. It was a hard struggle to come back to concert guitar and recording. Even though he had great recordings in the past, making new ones meant he had to come back to the level where he was.
The book is about the hard work that took. Some difficulties outside of the concert life are peppered throughout the book.
My favorite parts are when he talked about Master Segovia and the respect he has for the man. I thought it was particularly insightful to see Segovia’s thoughts on some of his contemporaries. He had no great love for some people while having absolute respect for the abilities of Parkening. I also enjoyed reading about the wonderful guitars that Parkening has had the privilege of owning and playing.
The book covers some details about his love of fishing as well. I knew that Mr. Parkening was a fisherman, but I did not know that he is as accomplished as a fly-fisherman as he is a concert guitarist. He has won several major championships through the years. You can tell through the book that he is as passionate about one as he is the other.
The book is decidedly religious. It is basically his spiritual journey and how God has worked in his life. While I don’t completely agree with all of Parkening’s theology, I do highly recommend the book. This is one of those books I may lend out, but only to people I know will get it back to me. This is one I will keep on my shelf for a long time.
Tyndale House Publishers, 2007, 286 pages with color photos.
[click photo to buy the book at Amazon]