The Autobiography of Alfred H. Mendes 1897-1991

By Alfred H. Mendes; Michèle Levy | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

WRITING — NEW YORK, 1933-1940

I arrived in New York late in 1933. A brother 1 who had been settled in Long Island since his university days was at the docks to meet me, together with Norman Macleod, an American poet, and Benjamin Appel, a novelist of the "Tough School". I had been in correspondence with these two writers for a few months and had read some of their stuff: Macleod's book of poems, Horizons of Death, and Appel's novel, Brain Guy. Both were men in their early twenties, Macleod cadaverous and obviously an alcoholic, Appel powerfully built with a massive head and a tender smile. 2 My brother took us into a bar 3 where we had a drink, chatted for a while, and parted company, both friends promising to get in touch with me soon.

I had arrived in an America stricken from coast to coast by the most dangerous crisis the free enterprise system had ever suffered. This rich country's mood was black with hopelessness. The soaring city of New York was more moribund than alive and there were silent queues everywhere listlessly waiting for food. This was a depressing country to be living in in those days. When fifteen million people are unemployed in a population of one hundred and fifty million, violence and bloodshed lie ahead: miraculously, nothing of the sort happened. I had left Trinidad with little or no money, intending to find a job in the new country. Although I was comfortably settled in my brother's home in Baldwin, Long Island, I began searching for a job, and after a month of this realized that my prospects were ... 4

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