By Troy Patterson
Updated February 25, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

You must think magazines are fun. Hell, you’re reading one right now. But a new salvo from the inside blares that it ain’t no picnic. Ted Heller’s thinly veiled Slab Rat paints a portrait of the magazine world with venom: Protagonist Zack Post — an underling at a fairly vain glossy called It — must run a gauntlet of callow backstabbers to bust out of his cream-colored cubicle. Even though Heller’s prose doesn’t do his wit justice, his bile is perfectly, depressingly corrosive. If this sounds like a book you actually want to read, then you’ve probably already read it in galleys. But if you just want to fake it, read on….

How to describe the book in magazine-speak
”At once, enfant terrible Heller delivers the pop-Kafkaesque chuckles of Dilbert and the knowing cynicism of Bright Lights, Big City.”

Literary heritage
The subgenre of the office-politics absurdist novel was advanced by Joseph Heller, the author’s father, in his 1974 novel Something Happened.

Who’s who
Versailles Publishing = Conde Nast; Regine Turnbull, the terrifying editor in chief = an amalgam of Vogue‘s Anna Wintour and Talk‘s Tina Brown; talk-show host Chris Duffy = Charlie Rose

Swipe at the vulgarity of a spoiled editrix
”I listened while Roddy Grissom arranged for Richard Avedon to take Regine Turnbull’s 2 by 2” passport picture at a cost of (including studio time, hairdressing, makeup) about $4000.”

Grade (in midtown Manhattan): B+ Grade (on the rest of the planet): C