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Grace like a River: An Autobiography Hardcover – CD, May 22, 2006
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Parkening isn't just the foremost American classical guitarist of his generation; he's a champion fly-fisher. He might have been a very versatile athlete if he hadn't quit sports at 11 for the guitar. Given his bent toward physical prowess, it isn't surprising that the best passages in his autobiography are about preparing to play, playing, and fishing. Driven by his lovingly disciplinarian father as well as love for the guitar, he became a professional soloist by his late teens. When his father comfortably retired at 47, Parkening decided to do the same at 30. Goal-driven to a fault, he succeeded. After a few years, however, he sold the dream ranch he'd bought, returned to Southern California, and resumed playing. Chastened by the emptiness of realizing his dream, he embraced Christianity with new understanding and purpose. He decided henceforth to play for God and share the gospel, and stories of how he has linked career and faith burgeon in the latter chapters of a book rewarding to music lovers, sport fishers, and believers alike. Ray Olson
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approach , possibly more philosophical or nuanced but clearly this is straight from his heart and mind; so there it is. I enjoyed all the guitaristic and musical stuff since I play the instrument and honestly skimmed through some of the fishing tales just because although I'm sure it's challenging fishing is not an interest of mine . Nevertheless I recommend this book as a very real account of a very fine artists' thoughts , dreams and transformations.After reading many autobiographies that are not personally forthcoming I found this to be fresh and compelling from a human standpoint . I met him once by chance after a concert he played in San Francisco many years ago and he was completely down to earth and friendly , asking if the guitar was audible enough etc.The Classical Guitar is very challenging to play well ,to say the least , and he is an amazing guitarist with great tone and heart.
The book moved rather quickly for me, but I found myself skipping the fly fishing stories a few times. If I were to make a recommendation of new editions, I would minimize those and perhaps put them in as an epilogue or a final chapter on his other hobbies.
Overall a great Read, and I would recommend to anyone who wishes to be inspired.
- David Carlin
I was disappointed, however, because the book I received from Amazon.com was in poor condition. It had water damage and the pages were curling.
Between chapters there are fishing stories which are entertaining and very insightful, however, can be a distraction in the later chapters.
My main purpose in obtaining the book was to learn how Mr. Parkening became the world class classical guitarist that he is. It's no surprise as far as I'm concerned that Mr. Parkening like so many other great musicians had the drive to succeed and excellent instructors who helped him achieve his goal.
What is quite obvious to me, given the fact that Mr. Parkening is a devoted follower Christ and promotes Christianity is that his idol as far as his professional life was concerned was Andres Segovia. That said, it is without a doubt that Mr. Parkening is a very disciplined gentleman who took his career and duty to his family very seriously. Unlike so many musicians who have led unfavorable lives, Mr. Parkening is a man you can admire even if you don't agree with his Christian beliefs.
I think that this book is a valuable read because there are so many people who don't realize that to have the ability to play music at such a high level or any level is indeed a gift from almighty God. The great Joe Pass came to this conclusion near the end of his life.
Simply, Mr. Parkening, I think succeeds at pointing the reader past himself to the source who gave him his talent and blessings. Some people will be put off by this. It's understandable though. However, I must add why I find this book so appealing has to do with Michael Dregni's biography of Django Reinhardt. Reinhardt in my opinion was and is the greatest improviser the guitar has ever known. After reading Dregni's book, I could understand Django in ways I could never have imagined. These great musicians are gifted by almighty God! The sooner we understand this, the less put off we'll be when a great musician like Mr. Parkening expresses his faith!
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