... excellent ... Patchett has a talent for friendship and celebrates many of those friends here. She writes with pure love for her mother, and with humor and some good-natured exasperation at Karl, who is such a great character he warrants a book of his own. Patchett’s account of his feigned offer to buy a woman’s newly adopted baby when she expresses unwarranted doubts is priceless ... The days that Patchett refers to are precious indeed, but her writing is anything but. She describes deftly, with a line or a look, and I considered the absence of paragraphs freighted with adjectives to be a mercy. I don’t care about the hue of the sky or the shade of the couch. That’s not writing; it’s decorating. Or hiding. Patchett’s heart, smarts and 40 years of craft create an economy that delivers her perfectly understated stories emotionally whole. Her writing style is most gloriously her own.
... a cornucopia of treats. Witty and warm, the essays succeed because of Patchett’s inimitable, endearing voice. Sincere but never simplistic, generous without being cloying, and accessible rather than anodyne, These Precious Days feels at once bracing and comforting ... Aspiring and experienced writers alike will find many nuggets of wisdom, helpful advice, and fascinating backstage stories here ... She brings us inside her admittedly charmed life and makes it feel, almost, normal. She also uncovers the alignments between her creative work and her real life and the crucial role of surprise in both ... It is her somber awareness of life’s precariousness and her ardent appreciation of its preciousness that makes Patchett an at once sobering and authentically uplifting writer. She looks unflinchingly at the things that thwart or cripple us, she resists easy explanations, she insists on the randomness of much 'good fortune' ... She punctures feel-good bromides with both brisk efficiency and moral passion.
A typical Patchett piece is a eulogy, suitably warm and affectionate, respectful to those who have died, or are about to die ... What Patchett lacks in obsession and poetic depth, she makes up for with her raconteuring energy. In the best of these essays, uncomfortable truths are papered over with disarming wit ... Patchett has good advice for younger writers on attitude, on writing v editing, on publishing a book, and even on the distribution and sale of the printed book ... Were the decisions on which ones to keep and which to leave out pondered over enough? There are the inevitable repetitions, as with any corpus of pieces originally written for newspapers and magazines; but sometimes the padding conceals the pearls. A more careful selection, for instance, might have let Flight Plan alone sum up Patchett’s rapport with her husband, and left the two other essays on their relationship out ... There are plenty of cringey moments...Yet I found myself ignoring the missteps, the saccharine detours, because they stem from the same impulse that enables the more engaging passages: the wish to let the heart 'remain open to everyone, everyone, all the time'.
Kind and generous she may be, but Patchett is capable of deploying the rapier where necessary ... If we are lucky, we will come upon someone in our lifetime who is truly good. Patchett’s writing reveals her to be such a person. Better still, she has a knack of finding this quality in everyone she meets. To immerse oneself in her book is to see the world as she does, in all its wonder and beauty. Read it, cherish it, buy a copy for your best friend, then read it once more.
... intimate, elegant essays ... radiant storytelling, both questing and vulnerable in its candour ... contains some masterclass-grade tips on writing, but it confronts, too, the extent to which literature and life diverge: people aren’t characters; our daily hurryings and scurryings do not a plot make. And while Patchett can’t start work on a novel without having figured out exactly how it will end, living well requires the opposite: 'Death always thinks of us eventually. The trick is to find the joy in the interim, and make good use of the days we have left,' she advises. As a rallying call, it’s timely, timeless and as full-voiced as her smile is broad.
Patchett’s generous new collection of essays, nearly all of which were previously published in periodicals, offers a burst of warm positivity ... this appealing mix of the personal and the professional highlights the centrality of books, family, friendship, and compassion in Patchett’s life ... Bottom line: Patchett is a person you want to spend time with – on the page or in person.
Read as a whole, it’s clear that Patchett is at her best when given the opportunity to write beyond the maximum word count dictated by most newspapers and magazines ... Patchett’s prose is as welcoming and comforting as the chickpea stew Sooki cooks for her ... Part of what’s refreshing in reading Patchett’s nonfiction is having a window into her discipline as a writer and her deep understanding of herself ... Whether she turns her gaze to her three fathers, her beautiful mother, her husband’s delight in piloting a plane, or her friendships, there’s a generosity in the way she not only looks at the world but invites the reader in to stay for a while.
... novelist Ann Patchett is, above all, marvelous company ... gathers together revised versions of published essays and a few new ones, turning her extraordinary powers as a writer to the lovely, unremarkable business of day-to-day living ... Several essays exist in the same chronological period but do not intersect, creating a sort of narrative origami, with stories folding back on one another but not interlocking ... Interestingly, the collection’s title essay is the only one I struggled with...Patchett is well aware of what she has here — a meditation on friendship with a woman who has terminal cancer during a lethal pandemic. But this essay felt less metabolized than her other work, as if the emotions had not yet cooled. Her hunger to capture Sooki on paper, knowing her subject is gold, practically smokes off the page, and that threw me. It’s a strange story, and a surprising one, taking a hard left at the end I didn’t see coming. Maybe that’s Patchett’s point. Even as a writer, you can think you’re in one story, and then suddenly you’re in another. As for me, I learned that contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to love a story to be desperate to know how it ends.
... packed with warm, funny stories offamily, friends, dogs, books and writing ... The mission of memoir is to bring back, at least on the page, lost loved ones, times past and places left behind, and Patchett brings to this reclamation project the abundant literary gifts that light up her nine novels. To that artisanship is added the electricity that only true stories have, the hot current of personal revelation and intimacy ... Patchett's is the perfect book for this time of year, an inspiration to recall and give thanks for the good we've been given, even if some of it has long since gone away.
... a grace-filled, insightful compilation of narrative essays of her literary life. They are deeply personal, self-revelatory articles tackling themes recognizable and relatable to readers ... The briefer essays are cheerful personal bonbons for the soul. Others are encapsulated memoirs that peel back layers to reveal particular moments in time for the writer and the people who matter most to her, including close friends, many of whom are fellow authors. Reading these essays is like attending the best author talk one could imagine as they are powerful, openly honest and real.
... possesses a careful dignity always on the edge of cracking open ... offers glittery shards of optimism among broken ruins of lives and loves, perfectly arranged and carefully rendered. Let these essays unfold in their perfect arrangement of emotions, presented in taut and unflinching yet lovely prose that begs to be felt to the bone. Readers will be glad her essays, as she says in the introduction, won’t die and that Patchett offers glittery splinters of hope that they too can persevere ... For the author’s many fans and anyone who loves beautiful writing.
... full-hearted essays ... Some of the essays are weaker than others: An essay on Snoopy has some self-conscious charms but feels essentially irresolute. Some parts of the book feel like excuses to brag about her friends (though of all the forms of writerly self-indulgence, that might be among the easiest to forgive). But at their best, they are a catalogue of all the unexpected ways love can look, if you're imaginative and brave enough to try it — even while knowing that love and grief are two sides of the same coin.
A writer’s life is by definition one of solitude, but Patchett, perhaps more than others, appears determined to wrest incident out of the random details of her busy life as an A-list writer and advocate for independent bookstores ... Patchett’s good intentions to help a stranger she took a liking to can’t be separated from her self-promoting instincts to make a story worth writing about. Which she did. And which, despite several cringe-worthy passages, it is a moving and memorable account of a brief but incandescent friendship.
Patchett...is an exhilarating and provocative essayist ... Mischievously funny and nimbly incisive, Patchett celebrates her close friendship with a nun; pays tribute to an unlikely muse, Snoopy; explains why she doesn’t have children ... Breathtakingly candid, Patchett attains graceful velocity and tilt, her vibrant sentences serving as divining rods for piquant life lessons.
Ann Patchett's new essay collection, These Precious Days, reinforces what many longtime fans like best about her writing: its levelheaded appraisal of what is good in the world ... Though readers will cheer when her next novel emerges, this collection is a balm for the moment, a candle that sheds warmth and light during a dark season.
Eloquent ... Patchett meditates poignantly—and often with wry humor ... The elegance of Patchett’s prose is seductive and inviting: with Patchett as a guide, readers will really get to grips with the power of struggles, failures, and triumphs alike. The result is a moving collection not easily forgotten.
This book contains a mixture of occasional essays and profound ones, all previously published ... Patchett also writes delightfully about Snoopy, the cartoon beagle and would-be novelist, first among her literary influences ... Perhaps a few of the slighter pieces could have been left out, but even those have great lines and interesting paragraphs. A bracingly testy essay about the author’s decision not to have children will give readers crucial pointers on conversational gambits to avoid should you ever get that houseguest invitation ... An enviable life shared with candor, emotion, and knockout storytelling power.