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6. Because Our Marlboro Man Is a Novelist.

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Author Jeffrey Eugenides on a billboard in Times Square.  

Times Square is probably the world capital of billboard real estate—a photo-op amphitheater wallpapered with neon. And, beginning this fall, planted right in the middle of the circus—next to the barn-size ads pushing blockbuster movies, the fragrances “designed by” their stars, and the fashion brands clotheshorsed by them—was a billboard in three parts actually advertising a novel. A novel! And a pretty literary one, even: Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot, one of those brainy, ­pleasure-giving hybrid yarns so rare that everyone in the business seems to line up to support them in the spirit of self-­preservation. Better yet, swaggering out of one panel like the hero of a bad 3-D movie was the book’s author, in a silly floral-print button-down (Paul Smith!), his “signature” Shakespearean goatee, and a woven-fabric charcoal vest (now with its own Twitter feed) open to the wind as he strutted forward into literary history. It wasn’t clear whether the all-text top panel referred to the book, Eugenides, or the outlandish FSG-­sponsored billboard itself: swoon-­worthy. The book surely got a nice sales boost at area airports, but the story the advertisement told about the city was just as heartwarming: Improbably enough, we still believe writers are big-enough deals they’re not just “important” but actually cartoonish.


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