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11 June 2014

Stephen King
New American Library
Publication Date
19 Nov 1984


'Thinner' - the old gypsy man barely whispers the word. Billy feels the touch of a withered hand on his cheek. 'Thinner' - the word, the old man's curse, has lodged in Billy's mind like a fattening worm, eating at his flesh, at his reason. And with his despair, comes violence. 
William Halleck, a lawyer with a happy family needs to lose some weight, or he's headed for a serious heart-attack. But after a car accident in which a young gypsy girl is killed, he suddenly finds he can't stop losing weight - and it might just kill him...

My Review

Stephen King published this book under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. For me, this is a typical King story - set in present day small town U.S. town, ordinary main protagonist and supernatural elements. I shall refer to King as the author for this book. 

Billy Halleck is a successful lawyer, his only problem is his weight… almost 300 pounds and his health is suffering. Whilst driving home, his wife in the car with him, he gets 'a bit distracted' when his wife gives him a sexual favour - yes, whilst he is driving. So distracted, he hits a gypsy woman who dies. His case is dismissed in court, thanks to him knowing the judge in the case. Outside of the court house, the gypsy's father comes up to Billy, strokes his cheek and says only one word 'Thinner'. From than on, Billy starts to lose weight. Initially, he is quite pleased - he can do with losing a few pounds. But it doesn't stop, thinner and thinner. Billy realises there is one one chance if he don't want to literally disappear. He has to find the old gypsy so he can take off the Gypsy's curse. And can you really stop a gypsy's curse? It appears not so, only transfer it to someone else. 

Billy Halleck is probably portrayed as a not very nice person (though King does this very subtly). Not inherently nasty, but selfish, a bit obnoxious and very career-driven. But in a great character portrayal, we read on and we can't help to feel for him and his honest account. Also, King deals in a very subtle matter with the  discrimination against gypsies without preaching 'Don't be a bigot' to us. 

The book is not very long, and if you have never read King before or are afraid that horror is too 'horrendous' for you I would really recommend starting with this book. I call it the King-kind-of-horror which is not so much blood, guts and severed body parts, but every day kind of horror. That's one diet Weight Watchers (or any other slimming club of course) would not want to see. 

As with many King books, a movie version of this book has been made and was release in 1997 which I did not watch.