Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, October 21, 2016


How To Spend Money by "Walter Drummond"  (Robert Silverberg) (1963)

Although best known for his science fiction, Robert Silverberg has published in many areas and under many pseudonyms in his storied career.

As "Walter Drummond," Silverberg wrote two books in the short-lived Regency Books paperback line -- Philosopher of Evil, which was a biography of the Marquis de Sade, and this one, touted as "The complete guide to savoir-faire, and enjoying the most good living for your dollar without losing the chance to make much more."  This fits in with the demographic that many of the men's magazines in the Fifties and Sixties (think Playboy and its ilk) were targeting.  Publisher William Hamling had one such magazine, Rogue, which, like Playboy, was aimed at young men who wanted to picture themselves as successful and sophisticated; some actually were but many were wanna-bes.

(Hamling, who also published soft-core paperback novels under several lines, including Nightstand, Corinth, and Greenleaf, started Regency Books as an upmarket publisher, bringing in Harlan Ellison to work double duty as an editor.  [Ellison moved on about a year at after he helped birth Regency, but other capable editors took over.]  Regency published many notable books during its short lifetime:  a nonfiction by Avram Davidson, nonfiction by Eric Frank Russell, mainstream novels by Philip Jose Farmer and Robert Sheckley, the first collection from Cordwainer Smith, Robert Bloch's Firebug, two Ellison collections, a collection from B. Traven, a quick-and-dirty book about Harry Truman and the Pendergasts from Algis Budrys, and several more.)

How to Spend Money is more interesting to read today than it was in 1963.  It's aimed at the young professional who earns about $14,500 a year -- this was 1963, remember -- and thus has some disposable income and who wants to use that income to enjoy life:  fine dining, travel, good hotels, gracious home living, having a well-stocked bar, and having a secure financial future.  Drummond/Silverberg takes that young professional by the hand as an older brother or kindly uncle would, explaining what works and what doesn't and what is crass and what isn't.  The result -- for me -- is a delightful display of 1960's-era pretentiousness.  (Please note that I have never had to be taught how to spend money.  In my case, it spends itself and I have never had what could be called disposable income.)

Please do not think that Silverberg himself is pretentious.  He is a well-traveled sophisticate who does know fine dining and how to enjoy life but I doubt very much if he has ever talked down to someone in the manner that "Drummond" does.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book although I will take few lessons from it.  The Sixties (and me, in the Sixties) are far different than today.


  1. If you want to see some of the variety of these items:

    Regency Books and other William Hamling projects

    FIREBUG was the first Regency Book, as it turns out. I'm about to post a cover image of the Silverberg book at the links page.

    The Leo and Diane Dillon covers were damned impressive...perhaps the most famous novel to first see print from Regency was THE GRIFTERS by Jim Thompson...

  2. I didn't know about Silverberg's book on money management! What a talented writer! I'm familiar with Silverberg's SF and fantasy novels (dozens of them!), but now I'll have to track down a copy of this book. Thanks for discovering this gem!