Shots fired! (Are we still saying that?) Hilariously, Jennifer Weiner, author of In Her Shoes and the upcoming The Next Best Thing, out July 3, appears in an ad featured on literary site The Rumpus (among others) wearing a vest against a yellow background. Her interesting wardrobe choice is a joke: The ad copy directly references Jeffrey Eugenides, whose vest is so famous it's appeared on a billboard in Times Square promoting his bestseller, The Marriage Plot. The vest is so famous, it even has its own Twitter account. As Weiner's ad teases, "Jeffrey Eugenides doesn't have a book out this summer, but Jennifer Weiner has ... The Next Best Thing." (The similarity between the two ads is clearly not an accident; along with the vest, the colors are the same and she's wearing essentially the same outfit as well, notepad in hand and all.)
Author Jami Attenberg, whose own upcoming book The Middlesteins is out in October, caught sight of the ad and posted it on her Tumblr, writing, "Jen Weiner’s new ad campaign is the funniest fucking thing I’ve seen in a publishing campaign in a long time. Like maybe ever. All hail the marketing queen."
Good tongue-in-cheek inside-publishing viral-ready marketing, indeed. We've contacted Weiner for comment—is it, indeed, Eugenides' vest, or just one that looks like it? How did she acquire the vest? Will she be wearing it on her book tour? Does this mean she's no longer nervous around Eugenides?—and will update upon reply. On Twitter, her photo changed to match, she's revealed the following:
@EugenidesVest, thus far, is silent on the matter, possibly slow clapping for the funniest book campaign of the year. How will the book sales compare? Your move, Eugenides.
Update: Jennifer Weiner has responded. On the inspiration for her ad, she says: "I saw the billboards, thought, 'Wow, how brilliant (an ad in Times Square!)' and, 'Wow, those are interesting fashion choices!' (Vest, paisley shirt). From then, it was just a question of finding a vest that fit me (thanks, Men's Wearhouse!), and getting the right expression of un-smug, yeah-I've-got-a-Pulitzer, bitch confidence." In answer to our questions posited above, she added that she has no plans to wear the vest on her book tour but may "pass it along to the next female author who could use a little Jeff E magic." As for the nerves: "I am still completely gobsmacked around Eugenides, and I'm sure if I saw him I'd be totally tongue-tied, as usual."
Eugenides himself has not responded to the vest, er, call to arms? Weiner says, "I'm optimistic that he'll get the joke, and take the ads in the spirit of homage in which they were intended. I am a big fan of his work—Middlesex in particular."
Eugenides' vest photo by @PeterLattman.