The Autobiography of Alfred H. Mendes 1897-1991

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

Chapter 9

WRITING — NEW YORK, 1933-1940

The telephone bell in Jim's studio rang; he was out and I answered it. I recognized the voice at once: it was Nina's.

"At last," she said, "I have found you."

I was silent.

"Are you there?" she said.

"No," I said, "I am not here," and placed the receiver quietly on its cradle. The tips of my fingers went cold, my heart beat faster. I sat there in silence, half shocked, half afraid. The phone bell rang again. I did not move, just sat there murmuring "No, no," and "no, no" again as it continued ringing. Then silence. I waited in an agony of suspense. It did not ring again. 1

In those far-off days, young writers coming to New York to be in the vortex of the publishing world were sure to find themselves drawn into Charles Studin's literary salon. 2 Charles's writing friends, young and old, established and not established, were legion. Most of the writers who became my friends I first met at his house at 12 East Tenth Street, just around the corner from the old Brevoort Hotel on Fifth Avenue. Ford Madox Ford lived with Janice Biala, the last woman in his life, in a flat at 10 Fifth Avenue, a few steps from the Brevoort. Ford was one of the few I did not meet at Studin's. He had read my Black Fauns and written me a note telling me that he considered it "a distinguished piece of

-99-

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