There is a special joy in falling for a writer with a stack of books to their name. It is a feeling of security not unlike having a well-stocked larder. And it is all the better when the writer in question is what Edmund White terms “companionable”: one of that select crew of “interesting, worldly, compassionate, energetic” greats who are able “to see the widest implications of the simplest act, to play a straightforward theme on the mighty organs of their minds”. Then it is like knowing your larder is stocked with caviar – or whatever your fancy might be.

Devotees of White himself will likely feel this way about him. With The Unpunished Vice clocking in as his 28th book, his back catalogue is…