... 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'.