This Sporting Life, by David Storey

Another angry-young-man book from the 60's, with another protagonist called Arthur. In this one, our hero works in a factory but excels on the rugby field and is taken on as a professional for the town's rugby league team. His personal life is less successful.

Pretty readable, and not too much rugby minutiae, which I had rather worried there might be. Arthur is a fairly sympathetic character: although he can be manipulative, and drives a hard bargain when negotiating his contract with the team, he seems to have a good heart.

Arthur lodges with Mrs Hammond - a widow - and her two children. The relationship between them is strange - Arthur wants to be close to her but she is unable fully to accept his advances: she seems to believe that Arthur is incapable of being faithful to her and that he'll leave her as soon as she capitulates. This despite strenuous efforts on Arthur's part to be decent and to support her, even when he becomes relatively well off and popular with the girls.

As well as the Mrs. Hammond thread, Arthur also has to contend with the politicking that's going on between the members of the board for the rugby team: or rather, the effects of it, since he doesn't really have much say in how things develop there. And there are squabbles and rivalries amongst the other players, but these seem aren't really what preoccupies him.

At one point, Arthur leaves the Hammond household, and moves into shared rooms - an episode I that I didn't really follow: it seemed a bit dreamlike. But then he is drawn back to Mrs Hammond for a rather unsettling denouement.

I thought the writing was pretty good here, so would be worth looking for more by David Storey.

Completed : 14-Feb-2009

[nickoh] [2009 books] [books homepage]