The figurative language of Michael Lewis…

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes from Michael Lewis….

Many readers know Michael Lewis (pictured above) from his ultra-successful book The Big Short, about the 2008 financial crisis. (It was turned into an equally successful movie, of the same name, starring Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell.)

So, when I heard Lewis interviewed on a podcast about his latest book Premonition: A Pandemic Story, I bought myself a copy for my Kindle right away. (The library waiting list — 180 — was too daunting for me.)

As always, Lewis tells a technically complex story in a colourful and gripping way. His theme is the COVID pandemic. But his starring characters are: a 13-year-old girl, a gutsy California-based public-health officer, and a team of doctors, nicknamed the Wolverines, who don’t have official permission to implement their work. The story is gripping — and not just because we’re still living it now.

Lewis also has the skill and experience to make keen use of figurative language. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Asking him to help with a children’s science fair project felt a bit like pulling LeBron James in to play on your pickup basketball team.
  • Much of what Richard loved doing could be done in a white linen suit. Much of what Carter loved doing left his hands black.
  • Richard viewed models as a check on human judgment and as an aid to the human imagination. Carter viewed them more as flashlights.
  • Soon Wilson realized that the DeRisi Lab was to science what Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory was to candy.
  • Until then, Carter had felt a bit like a man searching a dark cave with a match; the Japanese were about to wheel in floodlights.
  • She wasn’t some shrinking violet; she was a massive bouquet of red roses delivered with a singing telegram.
  • A fast-mutating virus is as untraceable as a burglar who leaves behind billions of different fingerprints.
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