Cover Image: Everything and Nothing at Once

Everything and Nothing at Once

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Member Reviews

"Everything and Nothing at Once" by Joel Leon is a powerful exploration of identity, culture, and resilience. Through poignant prose and evocative storytelling, Leon offers a reimagined soundtrack for the future that resonates deeply with the Black experience. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the complexities of race and identity in today's world.

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"Everything and Nothing At Once" by Joel Leon resonates deeply with my work as a therapist in the Bronx and my personal experiences. This collection of essays, penned by a Bronx native, performer, poet, and storyteller, offers a tender, rich, and emotionally honest exploration of Black masculinity, Black life, Black parenthood, Black joy, Black trauma, and the rich tapestry within the Black community.

Leon's prose is a delicate blend of street talk and fierceness, delivering an unflinchingly honest account of his own experiences and reflections. Having lived and worked in the Bronx for over a decade, I found immense fulfillment in reading an artist's testimony who not only grew up in the same borough but also pays homage to its transformative impact on his journey towards becoming the artist, man, partner, father, and creative he is today.

Leon's mastery of language is evident throughout the collection, skillfully rendering even the most painful experiences into words that you won't be able to stop reading. His ability to encourage readers to persist through challenging emotions showcases his gift for making a home out of language. It is not surprising that he authored his first book at the age of 14, a testament to his role as a thinker, feeler, and community activist.

The vulnerability with which Leon explores his journey as a Black father to two Black girls is particularly moving. His emotional maturation process unfolds on the pages, outlining his mistakes as a guide for the next generation of Black men. This collection is not a directive on what to think or feel; rather, Leon invites readers to consider who we are as Black folx, urging reflection on the art we will create and the legacy we will leave in our lifetimes.

The essays cover a wide spectrum of topics, from the intricacies of masculinity as performance to the fragility within this "decaying time bomb." Leon fearlessly addresses questions often left unspoken, such as "How do you break up with a friend if you are a Black man?" He weaves in insights from Buddhism, sharing its impact on his gratitude practice and his ability to navigate life with openness.

Throughout the collection, Leon pays homage to influential figures and community pillars, including Jay Z, Nipsey Hussle, Will Smith, The Ortiz Funeral Home, and Fordham Road. He shares personal experiences with therapy, emphasizing its role in healing his inner child and promoting positive well-being today.

The eulogy for his father, Charles Lorenzo, at the end of the collection adds a deeply personal touch. In "Everything and Nothing At Once," Joel Leon invites readers to witness the beauty in the complexity of Black life, offering a profound and transformative journey through his words. This collection is a testament to the power of storytelling and the healing potential of literature in exploring and understanding the nuances of the human experience, specifically for the brothers. Thank you to the author and publisher for the e-arc copy!

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