A book of rare stature, vivid and profound in seeking out the hiding places of Heaney’s power.
John Carey, The Sunday Times
A uniquely interesting book because of the interviewer’s tact, his special knowledge of the work and his abiding belief in the importance of poetry in the world.
Colm Tóibín, Sunday Business Post Books of the Year
Wonderful acts of recollection, mingled with musings about writing that are beautiful and true.
Andrew Motion, Guardian Books of the Year
A deeply nourishing book.
Anne Enright, Guardian Books of the Year
Richly enjoyable, consistently engaging.
Terence Brown, The Irish Times
These pages read so conversationally, like a true meeting of minds – the erudition and acute sensibility of the questions matched by Heaney’s customary virtuoso display of knowledge, insight, and grievous (a favourite word of his) honesty.
Bel Mooney, The Times
Stepping Stones is, in effect, Seamus Heaney’s autobiography: childhood, religion, marriage, the Troubles, the Nobel, his theory of poetic inspiration (’a ball kicked in from nowhere’) – all are memorably addressed.
Blake Morrison, Guardian Books of the Year
Guarded and gracious, certainly, but there’s a firmness here that will make you gulp. Hard to put down.
John Kelly, Sunday Business Post Books of the Year
A life self-told, and a priceless body of poetry self-described by the finest living poet in the English language.
Douglas Dunn, Sunday Herald Books of the Year
To listen to the greatest poet of the age, speaking about the mysteries of his art with modesty and wit and yet with deep assurance, is a privilege and a joy.
Ann Wroe, The Tablet Books of the Year
Meticulous and measured, a work of deep insight and revelation; it is an invaluable addition to the work of Heaney.
Vincent Woods, The Irish Times
Unflaggingly absorbing . . . It’s all here, from Ted Hughes and Gerard Manley Hopkins to Goya, from the Troubles (”poetic justice isn’t enough”) to “seminar-speak”, from friendship and fun to literary responsibility and religion. The tone is easy, relaxed – even rambling – yet every sentence thrills.
Michael Kerrigan, Scotsman
A truly marvellous book, a book which is the meeting of two deeply committed and thoughtful poetry minds.
Bernard O’Donoghue, Poetry London
Rich in anecdote, reflection and close-ups that mirror the autobiographical nature of much of the poetry. It not only illuminates the work of this great poet, but sets a new template for how a life can be put on the record.
Gerard Smyth, Irish Times
Chatty and authoritative and, for anyone who loves Heaney’s work, gripping.
Christina Patterson, Independent
A must for Heaney’s many aficionados, for whom the contexts of his writing will be fascinating… He possesses a marvellous ability to recall the detail of his life, right back to childhood… The book mercifully lacks the feel of hagiography. There is, too, a sense of Heaney’s twinkling humour.
Stephen Knight, Independent on Sunday
O’Driscoll’s questions are very well chosen … he has a knack for drawing his subject out without ever being banal or toadying … there is an easy but firm intelligence behind everything that Heaney says here … this really is a remarkable book. There isn’t a dull, vapid or useless sentence in it; it’s about what it is to be human as much as it is about what it is to be a poet … it must have taken years, and an enormous amount of energy on the part of the both people. Even the index is highly commendable (always a good sign that a book has had properly lavish attention spent on it). It is packed with both insight and good humour. Even those possessing scant familiarity with Heaney’s verse will like it. Unbelievably, it only costs a tenner. Off you go.
Nicholas Lezard, Guardian Paperback of the Week
This is not only a radically original book; in its own quiet way it is also a great one.
Donald Fanger, Truthdig