... perhaps his most remarkable and gripping work ... The agonies he describes with such unsparing honesty ... The paradox is that, for all his anxiety, Storey is lovely company on the page as he was in person. He offers riotous and sharp pen portraits of Lucian Freud and Ralph Richardson, and a deep consideration of his creative partnership with the director Lindsay Anderson. But the demons never retreat far. As a result the narrative is flecked with repetitions, while Storey’s prose is rife with dangling participles and botched pronouns ... feels less like bad style than an identity crisis manifested in syntax. The first-person singular seeps in everywhere ... His admirers should be grateful that Storey toiled for so long to provide such a densely drawn map of mental illness.
... intense, darkly humorous and frequently claustrophobic ... Storey’s extravagant talents and work ethic emerged not only from a desire to transcend the limitations of his background but out of a sense of atonement, of compensation, a crushing feeling of guilt. Presented frankly, sometimes obsessively, in A Stinging Delight, the theme threatens to overwhelm the book, which is at its best in his broodingly atmospheric descriptions of mid-century Wakefield and the failing schools of postwar London’s East End ... some of the more repetitious and circular passages could have done with further pruning ... Brutal, lyrical, self-absorbed but never self-pitying, Storey’s writing has often received the dread term 'Lawrentian' – once a badge of honour, now relentlessly unfashionable ... There is so much to admire of Storey’s life and times, aside from his immense gifts, and to reflect on: not least the sheer 'bloody-mindedness', as he terms it, that helped him to endure those crippling periods of depression. That socially divisive system of schooling, introduced when he was eleven by the Education Act of 1944, did enable his 'escape' from his birthplace. At the same time, it alienated him from the environment that inspired his greatest achievements.
It is hard to think of a recent literary autobiography that pulls so few punches or is so nakedly self-revealing of the person that its author imagined himself to be ... Storey writes blisteringly of his trauma ... mesmerising until the point where our hero becomes a success, it drags just a touch while describing his theatrical triumphs only to redeem itself with the midlife crisis ... Sympathetically edited, its abiding quality is, in the end, a kind of fearlessness.