Thinner by Stephen King
New English Library (paperback), 1984
BLURB FROM THE COVER
– The old gypsy man barely whispered the word. Billy felt the gentle touch of a withered hand, gentle on his cheek.
Billy Halleck, prosperous if overweight citizen, married, shuddered, then turned angrily away. The old woman’s death has been none of his fault. The court had cleared him. She’d just stumbled in front of his car. Now he simply wanted to forget the whole messy business.
Later, when the scales told him he was losing weight, it was what the doctor had ordered. His wife was pleased – as he should have been. But..
– The word, the old man’s curse, had lodged in his mind like a fattening worm, eating away at his flesh, at his reason. And with his despair came violence.
Thinner, ” the old Gypsy man with the rotting nose whispers to William Halleck as Halleck and his wife, Heidi, come out of the courthouse Just that one word, sent on the wafting, cloying sweetness of his breath. “Thinner. ” And before Halleck can jerk away, the old Gypsy reaches out and caresses his cheek with one twisted finger. His lips spread open like a wound, showing a few tombstone stumps poking out of his gums. They are black and green. His tongue squirms between them and then slides out to slick his grinning, bitter lips.
I really enjoyed Thinner. This was originally published under King’s pseudonym, Richard Bachman. I liked Billy’s character and thought he was well-written. I’m a bit overweight myself so found him very sympathetic. I like the plot of Thinner and thought it was original. I do think Billy’s weight is exaggerated at the start of the novel. Billy is 6 feet 2 inches and his weight would not make him the tub of lard we are expected to believe he is. I’ve read very few novels that feature any characters who are Gypsies so found this quite interesting. I really didn’t like Billy’s wife. She is as responsible for the old woman’s death as much as her husband and despite her apparent worry over her husband’s weight she continues to feed him ridiculously large food portions. Linda was irritating and sort of bland. I really enjoyed reading Thinner. There are quite a lot of dark moments in Thinner but King does a great job. I was impressed that King managed to write about Gypsies without being too stereotypical and he makes these characters very sympathetic. I find the ending very sad. On a side note, the movie adaptation is sort of shit. Thinner is very different than the other Bachman books and after its release it because public knowledge that King was Bachman. Thinner is a good, quite chilling read.
I have only two more novels to read and I’m done with my re-read of all of Stephen King’s novels. Under the Dome and 11/22/63, both of which I have only read once. I have started to read Under the Dome.