on October 29, 1999
I liked this book. A lot. Stephen King is good at writing lengthy novels that don't really scare, but make you think "Hey, that was pretty damn cool". This book isn't very long; but that seems to be of little importance. The fact is that of all the books Stephen King has written, this is the one with the scariest ending. Gypsy curses and the overall moral message of the book "You Are Responsible For Your Actions!" all come to a nice crescendo. An actual feeling of horror (ok, maybe not horror but a feeling of unease) sticks with you after you read the book. There is actual impact in retrospect of this book. It will bother you (provided you possess a soul). By the way, DO NOT SEE THE MOVIE FIRST!!!! It will ruin the book. Read the book first, then watch the horrible movie. If not for anything other than the small part the author plays.
THINNER, which was originally written in 1984, is a very effective novel. I've read most of King's books, and I would place this one in the top half. This book isn't necessarily horrific or scary, but it's pretty suspenseful. Unlike some of King's later books, this novel is short and tightly written, and it kept me interested until the very end.
This novel deals with a overweight lawyer who is rapidly growing thinner, due to a curse inflicted upon him by gypsies. THINNER is unique in the sense that the main character is not a particularly heroic person, and in many ways is trying to escape responsibility for his own actions. This may turn off some readers, but I enjoyed this story's moral complexity. The ending of THINNER won't please everyone, but I felt it was appropriate and consistent with the overall point of the storyline.
This novel isn't a classic, but it's a solid effort by one of the best genre writers around. Highly recommended for King fans.
on May 7, 2007
I really enjoyed Thinner. I read it during Halloween for book club. We each chose a Steven King book, and this is the one that I chose. I had seen the movie, so I wanted to read the book. I think the book is a lot better than the movie. I enjoyed this book because of all the taboo things that occurs to the main character. I loved the aspect of the gypsies and this big curse that the main character was dealing with. The idea of how they were going to remove the curse opened a whole new can of worms. I was very interested, and glad to obtain more details about the story from the book than what I got from the movie! I loved the characters in this book, and it was interesting to see how the curse played a key role in their lives as well. Great book!
Of the five books that Stephen King published under the pen name of Richard Bachman, three of them involved making the numbers of the chapters part of the story. In "The Running Man" there was a countdown as the game progressed while in "The Long Walk" the miles added up. In "Thinner" each chapter gives us the weight of the protagnoist, Billy Halleck, as it plummets relentlessly down. As with his classic short story about smoking, "Quitters, Inc.," King took an American obsession and turned it into a nightmare come true. The cataylst for Billy's weight loss is that old chesnut, the gypsy curse. While driving one night Billy is, uh, distracted by his wife and runs down the elderly daughter of Tadzu Lempke, the leader of a band of gypsies who have invaded the town. Billy is a lawyer and his friends, the judge and police chief, make sure the woman's death is ruled an accident. But before Billy can celebrate, Tadzu touches him and utters the one word curse: "Thinner."
What makes "Thinner" the best of the Bachman books is that King works a whole bunch of other elements into the story. Unlike his earlier Bachman efforts with tended to be one note (e.g., walk till you drop), "Thinner" pours on the fun. Billy's family and doctors are overjoyed by his weight loss at first, but then it continues at an alarming rate, even as Billy spends all of his time eating everyting in site. They insist it is a psychological problem, or perhaps physiological, but a gypsy curse is beyond their ability to believe. Not so for Richie Ginelli, a mobster who is one of Billy's most grateful clients. Ginelli is old school and his mother knows about gypsy curses, so Richie is more than willing to fight fire with fire. Tadzu curses Billy. In an act of desperation Billy proclaims the Curse of the White Man from Town. Richie does everything he can to make that curse come true in an effort to force the old man to "take it off."
That campaign is what elevates "Thinner" above the rest of the Bachman books. In the world of Stephen King fighting back is always the most difficult part of the equation and I like the fact that this time around the effort is grounded in the real world. The gypsies have curses but Richie has automatic weaponry and a cunning honed in the underworld. The end result is that as you read "Thinner" you become open to the possibility that Billy might get out of this one alive, if only they can stop Tadzu's granddaughter Gina with her slingshot and ball bearings. There are other complications in Billy's life that add to the fun of the denoument, such as whatever is going on between Billy's wife and his doctor, so that once King gets the ball rolling it keeps picking up speed as it goes down that hill. We are not talking great fiction here, just a story that gives you second thoughts over every trying another diet.
on July 13, 2004
Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, may have released this novel under a pseudonym for good reason. While King's work is never terrible, THINNER certainly isn't his best. Nonetheless, it is worth a read - but only for a true King fan. I don't think I'm a loyal King fan yet, but with works like THE STAND and PET SEMATARY, I think I am well on my way.
THINNER is about an overweight lawyer named William Halleck. Despite the fact his doctor has warned him he's nearing heart attack territory, other aspects of life are better. He's got a good job and earns a living that is more than adaquete. He has a wonderful wife and despite the fact he's a big guy, the two of them have an active sex life. Billy also has a 14 year-old daughter named Linda with whom he is quite close. Besides the weight issue, life is just peachy for Billy Halleck.
Until the gypsy's curse. He accidentally hits and kills the 75 year-old gypsy daughter and her family, including her 106 year-old father, yearn for revenge. So now, Billy is losing weight at a drastically alarming rate of about 9 or more pounds a week. He's being erased off the face of the earth, pound by pound. If he enlists the help of friend and Three Brothers restaurant owner Ginelli, will the livid, vengeance-seeking gyspsies surrender and remove their curse? Or will Billy eventually waste away to nothing but skin and bones?
Eh. I read on and found out. But if I hadn't, the suspense wouldn't have killed me, if you get the gist of what I'm saying.
"THINNER" is not as remarkable as other reads by King - and not nearly as memorable. Usually, his novels boast well-developed characters and an exhilarating plot filled with twists and turns. With the exception of the ending, I found this book to be more predictable than his others.
Whatever. You can't expect the man to churn out continuous hit after hit, can you?
on April 9, 2002
This is not the best or worst from Stephen King based on the novels of his that I've read. The idea is great and the story has an evil undercurrent running through it which is a trademark of Kings.
The basic story is how lawyer Billy Halleck and two others from his town cross a gypsy elder who then lays a different curse on each of them. Billy's curse is that he just keeps getting thinner, regardless of what he eats, every day he loses a few more pounds. The two other townsfolk have horrid curses inflicted on them, I don't want to give too much away but the reason for the skin disease is a bit confusing to me.
The curses themselves are absolutely disgusting and if King's idea was to make me feel a bit ill, it worked. Only thing is that it detracts from the enjoyment of the book. I prefer the scary approach to his novels. He also has a tendency to paint his main characters with flaws that leave you unsure as to whether you should hope they get out of the predicament or are happy for them to meet the fate they deserve. Once you meet the gypsies and find they are just as despicable as the cursed characters the book just becomes a race to the end to find out what happens. You don't end up barracking for anyone.
One character I did enjoy was the Ginelli, the New York mobster who comes to save Billy. He has an honesty that the other characters seem to lack but his motivation for getting involved in the situation as deeply as he does is unclear, and his fate is predictable.
Plenty of shocks and horror but it appears to be one that was done with less care than many of his others. However it is comparitvely short so if you are a fan and don't want to commit to one of his lengthy efforts then this is worth a try.
I bought 'Thinner' back when I discovered that Richard Bachman was actually Stephen King under a pen name, and was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining this novel was from the very beginning. What a stunning premise! After an unfortunate accident killing a Gypsy, our handsome lead character has his cheek brushed lightly by another who whispers one word, 'Thinner'. After this incident, he begins to lose weight...a LOT of weight -- and all without trying. Now is this the new miracle diet the world has been looking for? I doubt it. He eats and eats and continues to drop the pounds as though he were experiencing overnight liposuction without his knowledge.
As he goes from overweight to supermodel-thin in a short period of time, his fears multiply on a daily basis that he will die from this curse inflicted upon him and ultimately decides to seek help from Gypsys. This is (for me anyway) where the storyline went from a cool supernatural thriller to a hokey curse-driven
tale. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I could have come up with a more believable ending, but for some reason, it just didn't add up. I can't exactly put my finger on what exactly it was that I feel short-changed me in the storyline, but suffice it to say that despite my feelings, this really is a first rate novel of suspense and is told well. Stephen King deserves his status as the greatest horror novelist of all-time, and while this may not be his greatest tale, it certainly was better than a lot of his other books that were hailed as great works of fiction. Judge for yourself, I think you'll like it anyway.
I have to confess that I rarely EVER read Stephen King novels or watch his movies. I am a big fan and think he is one of the most (disturbingly) creative authors out there. But frankly, his movies and books scare the bejesus out of me! I NEVER forget his terrifying plots!
When he first started with movies like Christine and the book "Thinner" - he was a little tamer,I believe. I couldn't pass up the premise of this book and its title, so steeled myself for the nightmares.
I found "Thinner" to be thoroughly captivating! The ironic ending reminded me of O'Henry's short stories and I believe that most readers (even those who don't typically read King) will totally be immersed in this great tale.
on June 28, 2007
I just finished listening to this audiobook, and I really don't know where AudioFile gets off slamming Joe Mantegna's performance. He did a wonderful job with the different character's voices, especially the old gypsy and mobster. His performance certainly kept me entertained while commuting to and from work.
Stephen King also did an admirable job, and I enjoyed the book a lot. It has its warts, but overall it was a clever parable about revenge and indulgence. There was really only one scene that gave me an, "Oh, come on!" reaction, and that was when the main character conveniently encounters the retiree in the bar who tells him the anecdote about the gypsies. What were the chances that in such a crazily crowded resort town that Billy would run into this guy? Kind of thin, I would say. The ending of the story was also a bit predictable, and I think King relied way too heavily on dream sequences as a plotting device.
But still, it was a pretty good book. I particularly admired King's invention of the Italian mobster character as a way to escalate the story's conflict without exacting a price against our sympathy for the main character. If it had been Billy Halleck committing all those deeds--poisoning dogs, shooting cars full of holes, and threatening to kill pretty young women--then we would've liked him a lot less. But by assigning those actions to a secondary character who reacts to these events with shock and abhorrence, the story could advance and leave our sympathy for the main character intact.
Even then, those clever mechanisms of characterization weren't enough for me to completely like Billy Halleck. From the beginning, he was a repellant character: an overweight lawyer who, through his town's good ole boy network, escaped a vehicular manslaughter conviction. That's a tall deck to stack against your own protagonist at the beginning of a story and still hope to generate reader sympathy. And yet King still managed to make me like Billy, somewhat, through most of the book.
The only other thing I have to say is that I wish the character of the young, pretty gypsy girl hadn't just dropped off the map towards the end of the story. Yes, she served her purpose well, but there was such a great setup about her that I wish she could have taken a more meaningful role towards the end.
on September 28, 2006
After a successful Connecticut lawyer runs over and kills an elderly gypsy woman on a public road (while in the midst of being illicitly pleasured by his wife) he finds himself cursed by the dead woman's kin, who impose their punishment on him via uttering a single word, "Thinner..." The lawyer, an obese, cocky man, finds himself wasting away, dropping weight so rapidly day by day that his health is endangered. The lawyer's family and friends are aghast at his hideous transformation, which comes on him in the matter of a few short weeks, but nothing the man or even his doctors do arrests his radical weight loss. Facing death from a condition similar to anorexia, the lawyer fights back against those who have cursed him and enlists the aid of a thrill-loving gangster he once successfully defended against racketeering charges. With time running out and the lawyer's health spinning downward as fast as his weight itself, there comes a deadly confrontation between the migratory gypsy clan and the modern people who oppose them. Thinner was the longest and most success of the Bachman books King anonymously released at a point in his career just before he became the pop-culture icon he went on to be. It is a fast-moving story without clear delineations between good and evil, but its cast does run to the shallow side, unlike many of Stephen King's other novels and stories which feature characters who all-but radiate "life". Worth reading for a fan or by someone who wants a nice light tale, but not a classic or in the top half of King's works.