Review by Sara Boorman
Publisher: Faber & Faber June 2021
ISBN: 978-0571360314 HB
A Stinging Delight is an intimate memoir by one of Britain’s best playwrights. It covers not only his life in the arts but also his personal life, which motivated his desire to leave his working class northern roots and become a writer in London. The main catalyst for this was the death of his brother when David was a child which greatly impacted the rest of his life.
At times this is a laugh-out-loud book and a pleasure to read, at other times it is harrowing. To support himself while at Slade School of Fine Art, Storey worked in East London as a teacher in some of the most deprived schools in the city. This was truly the bottom rung of the education system in the 1950’s but it produced some memorable and joyous moments for the author. I also enjoyed reading about his sporting achievements as a professional rugby league player. But it is when he goes travelling abroad that David hits the depths of depression and despair, as being abroad seems to spark something very bleak inside him.
Before reading this I knew very little about David Storey apart from seeing the kitchen sink drama film ‘This Sporting Life’ and of course his association with film director Lindsay Anderson. This stark, brutal and honest memoir has made me want to delve further in to his novels such as ‘Flight to Camden’ (written before he ever visited London).
This is a journey through life and the power of an ordinary miner’s son who was determined to challenge his upbringing to become a respected playwright, screenwriter and novelist: his work has stood the test of time and is still relevant today.