Read cover to cover, a book of essays gives you the person behind it: their voice, the trend of their thinking, their tastes and the nature of their engagement with the world. So, here are two, one from each end of the human spectrum. Think of Milton’s Archangel Raphael, intellectually wide-ranging, lucid, informative and fair, and you have Francis Spufford. Think of his darkly glittering Satan — vivid, passionate, partisan and fatally persuasive — and you have Martin Amis. Read these books together and you have, in essay terms, a Miltonic whole.
These are collections of what might be called ‘pre-loved’ pieces, not originally designed to cohere, so they have been washed and brushed for resale. True Stories is grouped under abstract headings: Cold, Red, Sacred, Technical and Printed.