Please check out my books of colunms too: "The Eastpointer" and "Cat Point - And Them Dang Oyster People.
I Have Words to Spend
By Robert Cormier
By Richard E. Noble
Robert Cormier is a writer/journalist/columnist from Leominster, Massachusetts. Mr. Cormier who has authored an array of children’s Novels which include “I Am the Cheese”; “We All Fall Down” and “Chocolate Wars” also wrote “Now and at the Hour” a rather serious adult novel which I reviewed recently. I liked the man’s style of writing so I tried another of his works.
I Have Words to Spend – reflections of a small town editor caught my eye for a number of reasons. It was listed as his only non-fiction. It was an accumulation of newspaper columns. And it was from the “Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise.” These things attracted me because I too have worked for a small town newspaper. I also write books. I have been a columnist. And Fitchburg, MA is not far from the area where I was raised in Lawrence, MA.
Mr. Cormier also fit my penchant for reading writers who are no longer living. Reading too many modern “live” writers can be detrimental and lead to a disappearance of one own style and natural writing inclinations. I don’t want to give that happenstance any quarter.
Since Mr. Cormier was rather well known at the time, he wrote the column under a pseudonym. He wanted to speak freely and not gain the ire of the community or embarrass anybody. The book was edited by his wife.
It is a very, very nice book. It can very well be called reflections. The columns are simple and down to earth. Mr. Cormier is clearly a small town guy with no grandiose expectations from life. The stories are sensitive, warm, thoughtful and often subtly humorous. The reader will find himself smiling coyly or wearing a little smirk very often. Belly laughs were few but there were some. His story about speeding through the local car wash got to me pretty good.
There are numerous stories about his family and children, especially his youngest daughter.
I also was intrigued by the title. It still has me thinking. What did he mean by having words to spend?
I think it had something to do with his anonymity and maybe for the first time he was not restricted by his subject matter.
The column was considered “human interest” and he could write on whatever he pleased. So now instead of buying and selling his words as he felt he must with his books and novels, he was free to spend his words as he chose.
I feel that it is easy to get trapped as a writer and begin conforming to what the writer thinks my be the expectations of his audience. I think this happens to all artists and most don’t like it.
So this may have been a reach or stretch for Mr. Cormier. As far as I am concerned he did just fine.
His page presentation was also interesting. There were one line "paragraphs" everywhere. This gave the impression of a very non-wordy type individual. It was very unusual and clearly a good technique. I liked it. Short, staccato sentences with not many excess words. The point is made ... period.