Thinner is yet another novel that King penned under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. Unlike the other Bachman tales such as Roadwork or The Long Walk, this tale is not one of desperation, but one of guilt and regret. It does, however, take us to the edge of desperation within the last chapters of the volume.
The story is one of Billy Halleck. Billy is a well-to-do lawyer with connections within the town that always serve him well. Billy also has quite a gut on him. Lazy, overfed, and greedy, Billy and his wife, Heidi, make their way across town one night in Billy’s automobile. And this is where the story truly begins.
As Billy enjoys the ministrations of his wife next to him, reveling in the pleasure he is being given and worrying little about the road in front of him, he hits an elderly gypsy woman and kills her. Disturbed, but undeterred, Billy manages to side step the charges and come away a free and untarnished man with the help of his many connections within the court system.
It is, however, the touch of a gypsy man, who whispers, “Thinner,” as he touches Billy that sets his life on a crash course toward the seemingly indescribable. He soon begins to lose a good amount of weight, going from overweight to slim in a matter of no time. However, just as he begins to lose pounds, he also begins to lose those around him as they veer away from Billy wanting nothing more to do with them.
Billy is desperate at this point and makes his way to the gypsy camp in which the old gypsy man and subsequently the old gypsy woman once lived. What he finds, however, is that there is no easy way out of the curse, making the journey a suspenseful and fulfilling one for the reader.
Thinner is different from many of King’s works in that it deals more with guilt than actual horror, isolation or desperation. Thinner is ultimately a story of attempted redemption and a hopeful lesson learned.
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