Bright Lights, Big City

by Jay Mclnerney. Vintage Books, $5.95. If the reader does not happen to hold the clef, this roman is a caustically comic tale of the misfortunes befalling a young man in pursuit of what he conceives to be glamorous success in New York magazine publishing. When he buys an alleged Cartier watch from a street peddler, it is obvious that the fellow’s big apple will be full of worms, but they are decidedly amusing worms. The watch leads to the ferret affair, a memorable scene of satirical slapstick.