Pixel Tracker

Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 4:34 pm | A Few Clouds 67º


She Said, Z Said: Judging Michael Lewis’ Books Not by Their Covers But Their Characters

Some authors have all the fun, like writing a book about Obama just because they can

She: When I grow up I want to be Michael Lewis.

Z: And I’ll be J.K. Rowling. Do we have to buy more costumes. Is this like our Friday night Stewardess and Pilot thing?

She: Michael Lewis is an excellent story teller. He takes these complex stories about things I’m not all that interested in, like Wall Street and baseball, and turns them into gold. Not only do they make gazillions of dollars, but unlike some best-selling authors, his books are actually really good.

Z: He says he tried to write about the financial crisis like he was explaining it to his mother.

She: Or to me, which is probably even more difficult.

Z: Now you want to be his mother? I don’t know if we can get that costume.

Sure, Michael Lewis gets to shadow the president of the United States, but try interviewing a seventh-grade class president for a real challenge.
Sure, Michael Lewis gets to shadow the president of the United States, but try interviewing a seventh-grade class president for a real challenge. (UCSB Arts & Lectures photo)

She: The Big Short, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Liar’s Poker ...  If he weren’t smart, funny and charmingly self-deprecating, I’d have to hate him.

Z: At least he’s older than I am.

She: True. But not that much older. And you heard what his new gig is, right?

Z: Yes. I was sitting right next to you when he came to UCSB Arts & Lectures.

She: He’s shadowing President Barack Obama for the next four or five months to, oh, “maybe write a book of some sort about what it’s like to be president.” He’s not quite sure what he’s going to do with the information. How great is that? Michael Lewis got unprecedented access to the president of the United States and he doesn’t even have a firm idea of what his story is going to be.

Z: I was the president of seventh grade, so you already know what it’s like. Lucky you.

She: My favorite story he shared was that he thinks Obama has a writer’s sensibility. Obama has kept journals for his whole life and wrote short stories as a young man. Lewis said it was clear that if one of those short stories had been accepted by a publisher, Obama might not be president.

Z: That’s clearly my problem. I never should have sold that screenplay. I could totally be president now.

She: Not only does Lewis write these incredibly successful books, people just love the guy. He still stays in touch with all of the people he writes about.

Z: It’s easier to do that when your characters aren’t fictional.

She: Even with Liar’s Poker, where he took on Wall Street in the 1980s. As he said, “Not only did I burn bridges, I thought I left plastic explosives on the side of the remains.” But his old colleagues still want to go out for a beer with him.

Z: Well, sure. Free beer.

She: He said, “I tend to stay in touch with pretty much everybody I write about. They become characters in my life.”

Z: I like that the nonfiction author talks about his subjects as “characters.”

She: I think that might be the secret to his writing. He looks at it as telling stories in a similar way that a fiction writer might, which is why he says he doesn’t quite know the story beforehand. “When you come to people without knowing the answer, it’s more interesting.”

Z: Ah. That could be my problem. I already know all the answers.

She: He had a great quote: “You write your book, but the reader reads the book he wants to read. You find out what that is later.”

Z: A little bittersweet.

She: I’ve had that experience before with stories I’ve written.

Z: See, you could be your own version of Michael Lewis, just write a book already.

She: I’d love to, and if I had the opportunity to shadow Obama I’m pretty sure I could get a book out of it. My problem is I don’t know who or what it is that I’m interested enough in to invest that much time and energy into.

Z: Work the other way. If you could have complete access to anyone or anything in the world to write a book about, what would you want to do?

She: Oprah.

Z: And I’d want to do Leonardo Da Vinci. Should we go get those costumes?

She: Yes, dear.

— Who do you want She and Z to write a book about? Email them at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). And follow them on Twitter: @lesliedinaberg. Click here for previous She Said, Z Said columns.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.