The Men Can't Be Saved by Ben Purkert

Junior Copywriter Seth Taranoff spends his days at RazorBeat, a Manhattan-based ad agency, coming up with brand slogans. His latest, “Everyday Briefs for the Everyday Hero,” for a men's incontinence underwear brand, went viral, earning him an award and enviable star status at the agency.

What should then be twenty-six-year-old Seth’s heroic climb, propelling him from copywriter to RazorBeat Partner, instead takes a drastic turn leading to him being let go from the firm. Despite his ousting, he’s too focused on his recent success and all consuming affair with his former colleague Josie.

He takes a temporary job at a coffee shop for cash where he falls for a woman addicted to pills. When she leaves him for rehab, he skips town in a borrowed car to seek her out — leaving his job, ignoring his landlord, and falling deeper into his own addiction. 

In the depths of despair, Seth finds himself in Allentown, wearing a stolen pair of Smackdale incontinence briefs, and dining at a Chabad house. Here he studies Kabbalah with an Orthodox rabbi and forms a friendship with a young kid named Asher.

When it appears Seth’s life is at an all-time low, his nemesis and former co-worker, Robert “Moon” McCloone, reappears in an effort to get his car back, making matters drastically worse. We're constantly confronted with the question: can the men really be saved? 

Purkert dives into toxic masculinity, addiction, obsession, family, and faith. This is a humorous and totally wild ride of a debut!

Beowulf Sheehan

Ben Purkert is the author of the poetry collection For the Love of Endings. His work appears in The New Yorker, the Nation, and the Kenyon Review, among others. He is the founder of Back Draft, a Guernica interview series focused on revision and the creative process. He holds degrees from Harvard and New York University, and he currently teaches at Rutgers. The Men Can’t Be Saved is his first novel.

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