True Stories And Other Essays Francis Spufford

Publication date:
10 Sep 2019
Yale University Press
360 pages: 235 x 156mm
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An irresistible collection of favorite writings from an author celebrated for his bravura style and sheer unpredictability

Francis Spufford’s welcome first volume of collected essays gathers an array of his compelling writings from the 1990s to the present. He makes use of a variety of encounters with particular places, writers, or books to address deeper questions relating to the complicated relationship between story-telling and truth-telling. How must a nonfiction writer imagine facts, vivifying them to bring them to life? How must a novelist create a dependable world of story, within which facts are, in fact, imaginary? And how does a religious faith felt strongly to be true, but not provably so, draw on both kinds of writerly imagination?
Ranging freely across topics as diverse as the medieval legends of Cockaigne, the Christian apologetics of C. S. Lewis, and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, Spufford provides both fresh observations and thought-provoking insights. No less does he inspire an irresistible urge to turn the page and read on.

Francis Spufford is professor of creative writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of several highly praised books of nonfiction, and his novel Golden Hill won four literary prizes including the New York City Book Award of the New York Society Library. He lives in Ely, UK.

"Intellectually Spufford resembles a many-armed Hindu deity, able to pluck fruit and butterflies from anywhere on earth’s most robust tall trees."—Dwight Garner, New York Times

“This career-spanning collection – covering books, religion, technology, musings on Antarctica – makes us consider the world anew.”—Anita Sethi, Observer

“Commissioned by editors who knew that Spufford was someone who could talk with authority, passion and an amused intelligence about these subjects. . . He is incapable of dullness.”—Nicholas Lezard, Evening Standard

“Quietly gorgeous. . . Spufford has a knack for blending fact with fiction, to be sure, but also for threading through his stories a sense of his own uncertainties. Here’s the story, his writing seems to say. Make what you will of it.”—Caroline Crampton, New Statesman

“The essay collection presents its reader with the opportunity to hitch herself to an original mind as it pursues a course plotted by its own idiosyncratic, free-range curiosity. . . . Francis Spufford’s True Stories and Other Essays is just such a book. . . . An addictively quotable stylist, Spufford writes sentences and paragraphs that spawn thickets of enthusiastic marginalia.”—Laura Miller, Slate

“A delightfully intelligent collection of writings. . . reading them together felt both stimulating and luxurious, and left me with renewed admiration for Spufford’s agility, range and insight.”—Clare Carlisle, "Books of the Year 2017", TLS

“[Spufford’s] unifying perspective in True Stories is the virtue of imagination.”—Phillip Lopate, New York Times Book Review

“Components of a broader essay encompassing what it means to be Francis Spufford. The ego here is generous, patient and companionable. . . It seems he is on something of a mission, its purpose heightened throughout True Stories by the sinew, energy and immediacy of his style and by the continual relish he finds for his craft.”
—Jonathan Keates, TLS

“Thoughtful, elegantly-written pieces.”—Houman Barekat, Financial Times

“A mad mixture of Thomas Pynchon and Penelope Fitzgerald.”—Christopher Tayler, London Review of Books

"Spufford has a marvellous combination of gifts – a deep passion for his subject, an engaging way with prose and a wonderful ability to explain elaborate concepts without erring into triviality.”—Daily Mail

“Imagine the blended talents and intentions of Sir Thomas Browne, Isaak Walton, Herman Melville, Simon Schama and the author of Zen and the Art of Maintenance.” —Jan Morris, The Times

“Those who are already fans of his will be pleased to have these pieces gathered together in hard cover, to Yale’s high standards of presentation. For others, it would make an ideal introduction to the work of one of our most engaging contemporary writers.”—Rev. Dr. John Arnold, Church Times

“I am not alone in thinking that Francis Spufford has one of the most original minds in contemporary literature.”—Nick Hornby

"He can make the most recondite intellectual inquiry into something freewheeling and fabulous."—Rachel Polonsky

"Francis Spufford has long been one of my favourite writers of non-fiction."—Iain Pears