Here's a sure sign of the End Times: A literary novelist just got featured on a giant billboard in Times Square. That kind of thing's usually reserved for Calvin Klein jiggle-fests, Michael Bay blow-outs and the nicotine-stained machismo of the Marlboro Man. In fact, a rep for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux likens author Jeffrey Eugenides to that rugged ad icon, telling the Wall Street Journal's Metropolis blog, "We have that great photo of Jeff, which looks like the Marlboro Man, a classic billboard image." To my eye, Eugenides, as depicted in the ad, which promotes his new book The Marriage Plot, resembles Robert Duval. His image towers above Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets. Suck it, Franzen! In Metropolis, describing his publisher's past reticence to buy so much as a print ad, Eugenides trots out the word "flinty," so I guess his Pulitzer Prize must be well deserved. I don't know if the billboard will sell any books … but I could sure go for a cigarette right about now.
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