'Bingsop's Fables'

Courtesy of Harper Collins

Author Stanley Bing turns the tables on Aesop to write about people who are actually animals.

Stanley Bing is an author and columnist for Fortune whose nonfictional alter ego is known as Gil Schwartz, executive vp and chief communications officer of CBS. Schwartz has been channeling Bing for 25 years, and Bingsop's Fables is his 10th book. (Other works include What Would Machiavelli Do? and Sun Tzu Was a Sissy.) Illustrated by New Yorker artist Steve Brodner, the book contains short cautionary tales about such characters as the Miserable Miserly Mogul and the Ill-Tempered PR Person. The book is of course inspired by Aesop's Fables, because Bing felt that while Aesop wrote about animals and was really talking about people, he could write about people who are actually animals. Stanley Bing talked with THR because Gil Schwartz declined comment. As always.

You're familiar with Gil Schwartz?

I do know Gil Schwartz. He follows me wherever I go, and I find him to be a complete pain in the neck. It's always work, work, work with Gil Schwartz, and he doesn't let me drink during the day. He does, however, pick up my lunch a lot of the time, so that's OK.

How does Les Moonves feel about Stanley Bing?

Nobody gets a bigger kick out of Stanley Bing than Les. Which is lucky. Les is a great f---ing guy.

That's nice, but are you not concerned that your writing could create professional headaches for Gil?

On occasion, but I'm pretty practiced at being artistic -- in other words, vague. And actually, because I have to be careful that I don't step on Gil Schwartz's toes, it makes the work more universal and hopefully -- in the case of the fables -- more mythic. Besides, if I wrote about particular people, I might see them in a restaurant, and they might punch me, so what's the upside of that? And I don't want to do anything that's going to hurt Gil. He tends to be sensitive -- and paranoid. So I've been writing for more than 20 years, and it's not even clear what industry I'm in. Besides, most people don't know who Stanley Bing is. And they don't care.

So if I thought I recognized the executive ditched by his chauffeur on the way to a party at Martha Stewart's house, I would be wrong?

Yes and no. You know these guys. Everybody knows this kind of person and has worked for them. It is 100 percent accurate, however, that the guy was on his way to Martha Stewart's house. I attended that party also, and my limo got there on time.

Aha! So you admit -- some of these stories are about real people.

Some may be real, and some may be not. That's for me to know and you to find out. But look -- they don't have to be based on a specific individual to be incredibly evocative of somebody you know. And if it's evident who I'm writing about, then you can bet the person is either too big or too small to do me any real harm. Or I screwed up.

Hold on. Bing has a limo?

Let's say I shared it with Gil and a bunch of other middle managers. And we all made it in time. It was the first time I ever had a mojito, and I believe Martha slaughtered her own chickens for our dinner that night. At least, she went out to the coop, and then there was violent clucking.

The moral is that there's a right and a wrong time to annoy people. Have you taken that to heart?

God, I hope so. I want to sell a lot of books and avoid doing any violent clucking.

Release date Tuesday, April 26
(HarperBusiness, $19.99, 240 pages)