Michael Lewis’s “The Big Short.” God knows he doesn’t need the press: he’s the greatest living nonfiction writer; Brad Pitt stars in the movie adaptations of his books. But “The Big Short” made me want to give up journalism it’s so good. Scene after scene I felt like, how do you compete with this? He’s telling the story of the mortgage crisis, and his angle couldn’t be better: he follows the guys who knew it was coming and bet on it. This lets him explain how they knew and tell the story through these amazing contrarians and great funny scenes. It’s crazy how funny the book is. And as a story it’s got everything going against it. His characters are rich know-it-alls, but somehow Lewis makes you love them because he loves them. You know how it’s all going to end, but somehow he creates suspense. When the market doesn’t collapse as quickly as his characters think it should, some of them start to wonder: “Am I wrong? Is the whole world right and I’m wrong?” It all climaxes in this amazing, almost hallucinogenic set of scenes at this convention for the mortgage industry in Las Vegas, where our heroes have a series of encounters that make them all realize, no, no, no, they’re not wrong. Everything’s going to collapse. The economy will go to hell. And these people walking around are like zombies who just don’t know they’re doomed.
Illustration by Jillian Tamaki
(Source: The New York Times)