Reviews

On Poetry Collections

 

‘Ciaran O’Driscoll’s writing is sharp, lively and intelligent. He chooses subjects because he finds them intellectually interesting and so goes well beyond the standard Irish autobiographical mode. However he can write with passion too, with anger as well as acceptance, with a witty edge to grief, with humour and love.‘                          

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, press release for the announcement of the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Award, 2000.

 

‘That rare gift of irony without malice and skilful reduction of life into miniature.... a poetic voice deeply concerned with the essentials of justice and humanity. Here is somebody who loves language and its deft construction from the flotsam of life... a wonderful eye for the absurd.... a strong nucleus of passion.’                                         

Vincent Woods, Writing in the West

 

‘O’Driscoll is a deft artist whose sobriety makes his occasional anger or bitterness all the more affecting. Many poems leave you with an intimate sense of humanity. One or two made me laugh out loud, though the cleverness is usually illuminating, not just smart. John Montague’s summary is right: We need such hard-won high spirits.’       

Tom Clyde, Fortnight.

 

‘O’Driscoll’s new and selected poems, Moving On, Still There, includes the splendid meditations of his previous volume, The Old Women of Magione, texts in which the poet’s Italian surroundings gradually yield modest epiphanies. The accomplishment is striking. O’Driscoll’s wit is frequently a sort of verbal carapace, beneath which one senses the fragile tissues of, by turns, hurt, anger and delight.’

 Alex Davis, PN Review.    

 

 

On childhood Memoir, A Runner Among Falling Leaves

 

‘O’Driscoll’s book is an important document: well written, brisk, unfooled, it makes cool, frank and poetic observations of the intersection between personal desire and cultural possibility. At a time when we risk losing the run of ourselves in the forever ‘new’ Ireland of today, this brave, honest book should not be missed.’

Gerald Dawe, The Irish Times.

 

'Ciaran O'Driscoll is a poet of the first order. This book makes it clear that he is also a consummate writer of prose. This memoir reveals much suffering as well as unusual integrity, with humour and youth in it in spite of everything, and a hard-won resolution at the end. It is an extraordinary feat. Read it.'  

Pearse Hutchinson, The RTE Guide.

 

 ‘A wonderfully evocative exploration of personal childhood traumas and their adult resonance… a rarity in the field.’ 

Darragh McManus, The Irish Examiner

 

'Ciaran O'Driscoll can compete with Frank McCourt in the misery stakes, but A Runner Among Falling Leaves is neither predictable nor derivative, and the author's lyrical style gives it an edge over the dozens of other memoirs clamouring for space on our bookshelves.' 

Shirley Kelly, Books Ireland

 

‘The book combines nostalgia with truth and social commentary with poetry.... O’Driscoll’s return to his background and his humane portrayal of growing up, a process which is life-long, is rich and compelling.’ 

Sue O’Connor, The Reader (UK)

 

'I grew up in the town of this memoir. It all comes back to me through O'Driscoll"s poetic eye, the back row of Egan's cinema, the stink and sweat of Fair Days, the schoolboy jingles, the girls swimming in the King's River. But at the heart of the book is a deeply affecting, traumatic relationship between father and son. Here the writing is terrifying and like no other memoir I have read.'

Thomas Kilroy, playwright and author of The Big Chapel.

 

'A work of great truth and power, sadness, beauty and immense courage.'

John MacKenna, author and broadcaster.

 

On Novel A Year's Midnight

 

‘I found it extremely funny but also enjoyed the surreal inventiveness, and the way he uses landscape and animals (the dogs alone ought to make this book a best seller), as well as mystery and the uncovering of secrets. "Enjoy" sounds like the wrong word for the stranger, darker sections but I really did devour the entire novel with great pleasure. It’s such a revelation when we learn about the lead character George’s past and we get that great sense of things falling into place. A beautiful, surreal treat.’

Susanna Jones, novelist, author of The Missing Person's Guide to Love and When Nights Were Cold

 

'A Year's Midnight is a wonderful and beautiful piece of work - written by someone who has the eye of a painter, the ear of a listener and the pen of a poet. A book that entwines sensual delight with wry humour, landscape with lunacy - a joy from first to last.’

John MacKenna, novelist and playwright. 

 

‘A completely satisfying read and clearly O’Driscoll’s strongest work to date. An entertaining comedy from first to last between the nationalities, the genders, the generations and the two main species involved… a very contemporary book - Europe as we now know it, Ireland, London and all the frankness about things of the flesh.’

Tom Phillips, Cyphers Literary Magazine. 

 

'Ghost story, travelogue, existentialist tale of love and detailed exploration of the psyche all rolled into one, it explores the major themes of child abuse and how shaped we are by the pasts we have had to endure.'

Billy O’CallaghanThe Irish Examiner.

 

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