Everything and Nothing at Once: A Black Man's Reimagined Soundtrack for the Future (Hardcover)

Everything and Nothing at Once: A Black Man's Reimagined Soundtrack for the Future By Joél Leon Cover Image

Everything and Nothing at Once: A Black Man's Reimagined Soundtrack for the Future (Hardcover)


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For readers of Heavy, Punch Me Up to The Gods, and A Little Devil in America, a beautiful, painful, and soaring tribute to everything that Black men are and can be.

Growing up in the Bronx, Joél Leon was taught that being soft, being vulnerable, could end your life. Shaped by a singular view of Black masculinity espoused by the media, by family and friends, and by society, he learned instead to care about the gold around his neck and the number of bills in his wallet. He absorbed the “facts” that white was always right and Black men were seen as threatening or great for comic relief but never worthy of the opening credits. It wasn’t until years later that Joél understood he didn’t have to be defined by these things.

Now, in a collection of wide-ranging essays, he takes readers from his upbringing in the Bronx to his life raising two little girls of his own, unraveling those narratives to arrive at a deeper understanding of who he is as a son, friend, partner, and father. Traversing both the serious and lighthearted, from contemplating male beauty standards and his belly to his decision to seek therapy to the difficulties of making co-parenting work, Joél cracks open his heart to reveal his multitudes.

“I learned that being Black is an all-encompassing everything...To be Black, to be a Black man in the era I grew up in, was easily everything and nothing at once.”

Crafted like an album, each essay is a single that stands alone yet reverberates throughout the entire collection. Pieces like “How to Make a Black Friend.” consider challenging, delightful and absurd moments in relationships, while others like “Sensitive Thugs All Need Hugs” and “All Gold Everything” ponder the collective harms of society's lens.

With incisive, searing prose, Everything and Nothing at Once deconstructs what it means to be a Black man in America.

Joél Leon, also known as Joél L. Daniels., is a performer and storyteller from the Bronx. Currently, he’s a creative director at the New York Times’ T Brand Studio. Joél specializes in leading conversations surrounding race, masculinity, mental health, and the performing arts. His TED Talk on healthy co-parenting has been viewed more than 1.6 million times. His essays have been featured in the New York Times, Ebony, the Independent, and more.
Product Details ISBN: 9781250887108
ISBN-10: 1250887100
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English

Named one of the Los Angeles Daily News’ “20 New Books Coming This Spring You Won’t Want to Miss”
Named one of the Next Big Idea Club’s “June 2024 Must-Read Books”

“Leon’s lucid prose elevates his perceptive insights into the need for more expansive visions of Black masculinity. This auspicious outing announces Leon as a writer to watch.”
Publishers Weekly

“Quirky . . . memorable . . . sensitive, entertaining, insightful . . . . ”
Kirkus Reviews

“Joél’s words are where I go when I need some inspiration. And he never lets me down.”
—Lin Manuel-Miranda, Grammy Award–winning songwriter, director, author, and playwright

“In each generation, there are only a few authors who are gifted with the ability to fully capture the best parts of the human condition. Joél is one of those authors.”
—Frederick Joseph, New York Times bestselling author of The Black Friend and Patriarchy Blues

“The intention of these excavated meditations is to provide a compass for each reader’s soul work. Within the pages of Everything and Nothing at Once is a healing journey ready to be explored.”
—Mahogany L. Browne, author of Chrome Valley, Vinyl Moon, and Woke

“What stands out most about Joél Leon is community—his empathy and deep understanding of its importance, and his ability to approach challenges face-to-face, to look within without judgment.”
—Tia Mowry, mother, entrepreneur, author, producer, and actress

Everything and Nothing at Once is a masterpiece! Through brilliant cultural criticism and courageous personal testimony, the book provides rare access into the interior lives of Black men in America.”
—Marc Lamont Hill, author of We Still Here