Joey Yearous-Algozin's verbatim transcription of three years of voicemail addressed to his partner Holly Melgard. Catching hold of the ultimate ephemera, this brilliant, uh compulsively readable act of medium translation is also a virtuosic performance of genre-bending
Joey Yearous-Algozin, Holly Melgard’s Friends & Family, Bon Aire Projects, 2014.
For three years, Joey Yearous-Algozin transcribed Holly Melgard’s voicemails.
in a new mode of um exquisite equivocation between a lover’s devotion and his exploitation, between his attention and his appropriation, between his care and his um violation, Holly Melgard’s Friends & Family archives Joey Yearous-Algozin’s verbatim transcription of three years of voicemail addressed to his partner Holly Melgard catching hold of the ultimate ephemera, this brilliant, uh compulsively readable act of medium translation is also a virtuosic performance of genre-bending, as HMFF runs the gamut of conceptualism, confessional um lyric, documentary, life-writing, novella… 21C kin to Stein’s Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Yearous-Algozin’s work torques that model by not ventriloquizing Ms. Melgard directly but instead uh uh uncannily channeling callers who contour her absence in the age of SMS and email, the voice message has its own place in the ecology of immediacy and too closeness HMFF not only flaunts its intimacy (so who um authorized this?) but tenderly weaponizes it, the reader entrapped as solicited eavesdropper in an all-too-uh-uh-familiar contemporary circuit of oversharing, as those in-network and the Hollys they apostrophize are dispossessed and given up to exposure the book’s genius lies most uh evidently in this cast of characters and the composite portrait they create: bots who oblige Melgard as consumer-debtor (and as patient) to service her service relations; friends in her web of reciprocity at home in Buffalo; friends far flung who find Melgard um elusive but love her dearly; and, centrally, her nuclear family, who continually summon her as anchor of their affective economy as HMFF amply and movingly documents white, working class precarity, Melgard’s own complex class affinities and more especially her affective labor as daughter are brought into relief at times fiscally but always affectively, Melgard is called on, called up to absorb a continuous string of micro- and macro-crises even as she is also positioned as receptacle of excess love if Yearous-Algozin’s own voice joins these market forces of desire and need – “sorry for being a grumplestiltskin give me a call ok I love you” – his book knows it does not just represent but is itself inserted into that economy of affect thus perhaps the flipside of HMFF’s um macho propriety over Melgard’s messages, its gendered debasement of the love object in abject disclosure, is Yearous-Algozin’s over-identification with his lover and perhaps such listening to and (word-) processing of all that she has heard enacts a therapeutic commoning and lessening of its burdens to respond to that FAQ: I don’t think um you don’t need to change your plan to get Holly Melgard’s Friends & Family but um I don’t know if uh uh this means it won’t change you. — Judith Goldman
Joey Yearous-Algozin is the author of The Lazarus Project (TROLL THREAD, GaussPDF), Holly Melgard’s Friends and Family (Bon Aire Projects) and Caller (Company Books, Spring 2016), among others. He co-edits TROLL THREAD with Holly Melgard and Chris Sylvester. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.