I’ve been reading The Big Short, his account of the men who bet against the subprime bubble, and express my baffled admiration at his ability to get inside the heads of his characters. One, the hedge fund owner-manager Michael Burry, gave him access to every e-mail he had ever sent. “God’s gift to the narrative writer was Michael Burry’s e-mail trove. He lived his life via e-mail.”
But how does he persuade people to give him such access?
“I never really thought about it. I’ve had so many people enter into the spirit of the arrangement. It starts with the relationship before it becomes a literary engagement. It’s a very long-term investment.”
The only time he’s had someone pull out after beginning such a relationship was with George Soros, whom he had accompanied on a private plane all over eastern Europe in 1994. Lewis published a magazine piece which suggested that Soros’s qualities as a philosopher were overrated.
“He was furious with the piece. It just said what I thought. Is it my turn?”