Slab Rat

Ted Heller, Author
Ted Heller, Author Scribner Book Company $23 (336p) ISBN 978-0-684-86496-9
Paperback - 332 pages - 978-0-684-86497-6
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-7432-1361-5
Hardcover - 388 pages - 978-0-349-11375-3
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A satirical look at the glitzy world of New York magazine publishing by a young insider, Heller's debut novel charts the progress of Zachary (Zack) Post, an overqualified underachiever with a fraudulent past. Zack is at the low end of It magazine's corporate ladder, and he is desperate to move up. Both Zack and his ""friend"" Willie (read: least likely to take Zack's job) are beside themselves with the arrival and meteoric ascent of New Boy Mark Larkin, a contemptible brat who cannot even work a fax machine. Larkin's inexplicable promotions set Zack and Willie scheming to sabotage him. But Zack embarks upon a series of progressively ridiculous assignments, which, unbeknownst to him, are being orchestrated by Larkin to keep him away from the office as the new star consolidates power. He thinks that Zack has too many ""friends"" on staff, such as the New Girl intern, Ivy Kooper (daughter of the magazine's lead counsel), and Zack's strategic marriage interest, rich Brit Leslie Usher-Soames. And Zeke's still pining away for his lost lust Marjorie Millet (the sexpot art director whom he used to shtup in Stairway B and who is now alternately shtupping both Ivy's father and, of course, Mark Larkin). Meanwhile, masochist extraordinaire Willie stops sleeping, begins talking to the walls and buys a gun, swearing to do Larkin in. Ever the rat scheming in his concrete-and-glass slab, Zack plays all the angles he can, forging alliances with powerful enemies and alienating his unsuccessful friends as he tries to get Larkin's job. Like the 1994 film Swimming with Sharks, the novel cutely depicts the full-contact politics, false loyalties and colossal waste of the Great American Office. Heller's Machiavellian comedy is a reasonably entertaining (if unoriginal) first attempt, with special appeal for publishing types. (Feb.)
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