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Curse of the Old Gypsy Man…

Billy Halleck, good husband, loving father, is both beneficiary and victim of the American Good Life: he has an expensive home, a nice family, and a rewarding career as a lawyer. But he is also fifty pounds overweight and, as his doctor keeps reminding him, heading into heart attack country.

Then, in a moment of carelessness, Billy sideswipes an old gypsy woman as she is crossing the street—and her ancient father passes a bizarre and terrible judgment on him.

“Thinner,” the old gypsy man whispers, and caresses his cheeks like a lover. Just one word…but six weeks later and ninety-three pounds lighter, Billy Halleck is more than worried. He’s terrified. And desperate enough for one last gamble…that will lead him to a nightmare showdown with the forces of evil melting his flesh away.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451161345
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1985
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 11.02(h) x 0.87(d)
Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stephen King lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. He has written more than forty books and two hundred short stories. He has won the World Fantasy Award, several Bram Stoker awards, and the O. Henry Award for his story “The Man in the Black Suit,” and is the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.


Bangor, Maine

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1947

Place of Birth:

Portland, Maine


B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Undeniable suspense.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Pulsating with evil…will have you on the edge of your seat.”—Publishers Weekly

“Genuine chills.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Superbly crafted…extraordinary.”—Booklist

Customer Reviews

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Thinner 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 204 reviews.
Tina Batterson More than 1 year ago
Suffering from dyslexia , learning to read was hard, when i finally did learn to read.this book was my choice.I owe Mr King A Debt of gratitude,since reading this book,i have read everthing i could get my hands on, for the last twenty years..its an oldie but a goodie .. The Stand is my Faverite. But thinner is near and dear to my Heart. Thank you Mr King.
Guest More than 1 year ago
THINNER Thinner has been getting bad reviews since it's publication in 1984. It is not one of King's best, but it's not deserving of such a bum rap. True, it has your small town cruel hypocrisy, those upper crust citizens who are so willing to oust the undesirables when they have outlived their usefulness. What different about Thinner is there is not one, with the possible exception of Billy's daughter Linda, redeemable or likeable character in this story. I detect no remorse in the main character, Billy Halleck, who ran down the old Gypsy woman. He loses no sleep and suffers no lose of appetite, until his actions begin to effect him, and even then, he passes the buck on to his wife and the victim. When time is running out he turns to an old client, whom he seems to admire and trust, a mobster Ginelli. Although we all [SK fans] have a differing opinion on which book is his best, I'm sure we all agree, this book is not Stephen King's masterpiece. I consider it worth the time to read or listen to. I enjoyed listening to the book; Joe Mantegna's reading gave more depth to the story, although I will always prefer to hear Stephen King read his tales.
bbb57 More than 1 year ago
This book had such potential. Then Stephen couldn't figure out, as is often the case, how to end the book. Bad, really bad ending.
ReadheadGS More than 1 year ago
As always, I love this Stephen King book. I've been reading all the ones that I've missed over the years because now I have access through my NOOK. A suspenceful story with discriptions that allow you to visualize the story!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never been one to besmirch a stephen king novel but even if i was unbaised in this matter i would still say i absolutely adored this book.
Jac-o-b More than 1 year ago
Before I begin to critize this book, I feel I should first acknowledge it's originality and it's interestingly written plot. It's incredibly unique, I don't think any other book in history even comes close to touching this ones plot. There, now time to critize. It's ending, ah, it's ending leaves something (a lot of things) to be desired. The problem is, the book keeps getting better and better, and than, well, it stops. I finished the book in 2 days on my Nook, and it was well worth the read, and any Stephen King fan should read it.
jseger9000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thinner is a simple concept done extremely well. A relatively straight forward revenge horror tale.Hefty lawyer Billy Halleck is cursed by an old gypsy man who brushes his cheek and says "Thinner". From there he begins losing two to three pounds a day, regardless of his calorie intake.The horror starts slowly as at first Billy is quite happy to be shedding his extra weight. As keeps shrinking however, things become more paranoid and desperate.Thinner is a throwback to earlier Stephen King novels, tightly focused on Billy's plight and his investigations. The characters are still as well developed as I've come to expect from Stephen King, just here his cast is much smaller (Billy's is the only point of view we really follow) and he doesn't follow them down as many rat holes.One thing I appreciate about reading a Stephen King story is that he clearly does his research. When the book would discuss legal issues, the history of the gypsies or the medical complications of unstoppable weight loss he always adds in enough detail to show that he's not just making this stuff up.Thinner is about as lean a thriller as we are likely to get from Stephen King, yet it still has enough detail and depth of character to keep it from feeling skeletal.
StefanY on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thinner is the last of the Bachman books before the world officially knew that Richard Bachman was actually Stephen King (although by this point most fans were at least 90% sure.) As such, this novel is more in the style of king than in the more raw style that I found in the other earlier Bachman books.Thinner is a great "revenge" novel. The story moves quickly and the main character's race against time keeps the pages turning at a fairly rapid pace. The nice thing about this one is that, in true King fashion, nobody is truly safe and almost everyone, in some way, truly deserves what they get in the end. I really did enjoy this one and, though it's not amongst King's very best, it's right there on the second tier. It's a fun book (and the movie follows the novel fairly accurately) that I'll most probably enjoy again someday.Thinner is a great "revenge" novel. The story moves quickly and the main character's race against time keeps the pages turning at a fairly rapid pace.I really did enjoy this one and, though it's not amongst King's very best, it's right there on the second tier. It's a fun book (and the movie follows the novel fairly accurately) that I'll most probably enjoy again someday.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As with many of King's works, I find his books that deal with real people to be far scarier and more entertaining than the books that involve supernatural (and many times silly) monsters and beings. Gerald's Game, Dolores Claiborne, The Shining, Misery are terrifying without being ridiculous.
BurtonHannah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book Thinner is definitely not Stephen King's best book that he ever wrote. I think that's because it was one of his first books that he ever wrote. In the book Thinner, Billy Halleck loses weight because he was cursed by this old Gypsy guy who's name is Lemke because Billy and his wife ran over Lemke's daughter. And Billy is a lawyer and has many connections with the town so he got off really easy the judge declared it an accident. And the cop that was involved didn't really investigate the scene. He just declared that Lemke's daughter was jay walking which is illegal. So through out the story it goes on that Billy is losing a dangerous amount of weight and his family basically think that he is crazy and that this "curse" that was put on him is all in his head. But Billy knows that it isn't because the judge Rossington was cursed with turning into a reptile and the police officer Hoppley was cursed with a severe case of acne that was very painful. So Billy went on this chase to find the Gypsy's and to tell him to take the curse off. Throughout the story it goes to tell on that Billy has this friend who is a famous drug dealer that will help him find the Gypsy's. When Billy finds the Gypsy's camp he demands that Lemke takes the curse off or that Billy will put the curse off the "white man from town" on them. It turns out that the curse that Billy put on the Gypsy's is his drug dealer Ginelli. Ginelli just terrorizes the Gypsy's till they are extremely frightened and agree to take the curse off. Im not going to say too much because I want you guys to read the book to find out the events in more detail. And you will have to read the book to find out how it ends. I will say that it is very shocking!!!!
phaga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This started off pretty slow for me. I was having trouble seeing how a guy getting skinnier and skinnier was going to fill 300+ pages without getting ridiculous, but in the end it sped up and turned out to be a pretty good read.
gina-magini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A gypsy puts a curse on three men. One of them loses weight no matter how much he eats. He seeks to have the curse removed. This is a well-written, but very dark book.
barpurple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not a bad little take on the idea of a gypsy curse.
coffeesucker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another creepy book - pretty good read.
Anagarika on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mr. King has done a lot better. Pass.
lovelyliquid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story gave me a whole new thought on how to treat others. Even the though of something mystical happening I would prefer it not be what happened in this book!
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a painfully simple concept for a story: overweight man runs down gypsy, man's judge friend gets him off, gypsy's father curses man, man begins to lose weight at a horrifying rate, man hunts down gypsy's father to get curse removed. Considering all the stuff up to and including the man getting cursed happens before the book even begins, there is definitely not enough story here to fill 300 pages. It all feels like padding - the altercation with the doctor, the stories of the judge and police chief, even the lengthy bit of tracking down the gypsy caravan. It would have been much better as a short story. I hear the movie is good, which makes sense - this is something that could easily be condensed into a 90-minute film without losing anything. (Though I hear the ending is different, which is a shame since that was one of the few parts of the book that didn't drag on endlessly.)
booksandwine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stephen King is the master of giving me the creeps. This book was no exception. Billy Halleck, an overweight well-to-do lawyer, messes up big time and hits an old gypsy woman with his car and kills her. Billy gets off scot-free which pisses the gypsies off, so they curse Billy. Billy loses weight faster than an anorexic, wasting away to nothing. I guess what really creeped me out the most was how the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. It got me thinking about how much we depend on doctors to fix us if we get sick and how scary it would be to have a mysterious disease no one had seen before. Needless to say, this was worth a read during a long summer day.
mccin68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Billy kills a traveling gypsy in a hit-and-run. His arrogance and narcissism leds the head gypsy to curse him and the good old boys involved in brushing aside the death. Billy goes to extreme measures to fight the curse he is given. In a twisted ending Billy meets an ironic fate. One of King's best. This one was more realistic, similar to Carrie than to say Desperation. It made me wonder if something like this could really happen in a small town on a dark and stormy night.
usnmm2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of his most original ideas. A slightly overweight D.A. runs a band of Gypsies out of his town illegally. They in turn put a curse on him to lose weight. He must find them to get the curse removed before he fades away to nothing.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite King tales. I love Richie and remember vividly his revenge. At once I felt anger towards the gypsies, but also understood why they did what they did. It's horrible to be discounted so totally by society; by those with more power than you. In the end, Bill learns his lesson and decides he cannot live with it. I love the ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I went back to read several King novels I missed over the years . This one kept me going! A good read indeed. Enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Megan-R-Eng1A More than 1 year ago
Book Review of Thinner Stephen King's Thinner was quite an interesting read, in my opinion. Surprisingly, the book was not as scary as it seemed from the description. It was more suspenseful, I would say, in terms of feelings that it evokes. Likewise, this book could be considered a psychological thriller than that of a real horror book. This is due to how it made the reader think throughout the course of the book. Everything plays out in the mind and leads the reader to questioning not only the book, but also their own lives and actions, as well. There were a number of times while I was reading that I was shocked by what was happening. Several twists within the plot threw me off, but it added another element of diversity to the story line, which I found made the book even better to read. The story appears to be very original, to me, because I have never heard of a book about a person cursed and following them as they try to get the curse taken off of them, but adding side stories and such to create more depth. Personally, although I am a fan of psychological thrillers, I thought the book could have been scarier. Even though it was not as scary as expected, it was still written well and was an easy, enjoyable read for me. Compared to other types of horror books, this book differs slightly due to the fact that it talks about Gypsy magic. In most horror books, it seems, that there is a crazy murderer, or black magic, maybe even voodoo brought into the picture. This is more of a unique concept for a plot line than most books. The subject of Gypsy magic has often been heard, but is not often described, especially in a book, at least to my knowledge. Also, in comparison of writing style or how the book is set up, I would compare Thinner to that of one of James Patterson. I say this because in Patterson's novels he tends to write from multiple perspectives and not just within the same chapter, but from separate chapters viewing the same situation from mulitple people's perspective. To me, Thinner had a similar quality to this in how it was presented to the audience. Although the multiple perspectives were not always broken into multiple chapters they were still present, adding a nice effect. There were a number of quotes that I found to be helpful in choosing to read this book due to their content. These quotes came from both professionals and from average readers alike. Kirkus Reviews stated that they had “Genuine Chills” from reading the book. This quote was enticing and made me question as to where the chills were coming from and what or who had been their cause. Thriller lover, a reader and reviewer of the book, wrote: “This book isn't necessarily horrific or scary, but it's pretty suspenseful.” To some this quote may have been a reason to put the book down, but to me it was an encouragement to read more because I wanted to find out whether I agreed or not. Lastly was the quote from Booklist that simply states: “Superbly crafted . . . extraordinary.” This was probably the most memorable of the quotes because it may have a double meaning to it. I was curious to see whether the extraordinary was meant about how the book was written or extraordinary in the sense that there something not human in the book that was causing it to be so great. Also there were several quotes from the book that were memorable to me as a reader. The first is stated by Billy Halleck, the main character, and it says: “But it's hard for a man to give up all his pleasures, even when they don't pleasure him no more.” This quote is meaningful to me because it is relatable for mot people because as humans we are creatures of habit that don't want to change even if those constants in life no longer make us happy or help us. The next quote was said by Taduz Lemke, the “bad guy” of the book, and he states: “I never take it off. I die with it in my mouth.” Again there is deeper meaning behind these words. Many people in this world would go to the grave holding a grudge or being angry at something or someone just because they can. This stubbornness is shown through the character and reflects on many people within today's society. Also stated by Taduz Lemke was the quote “Justice, ain't bringing back the dead, white man. Justice, is about justice. Your friend the policeman, your friend the judge, they make sure nothing happen to you. They help you safe. But I make sure something happen to them. That justice, white man. Gyspy Justice!” This is again a reflection of today's society and how although there can be “justice” provided by a person or a court it may not be fair, but someone else will find a way to make things fair and just in their own sense of the word. Lastly is another quote from Billy Halleck and it states: “Some guys – a lot of guys – don't believe what they are seeing. Especially if it gets in the way of what they eat or drink or believe.” This last quote resonated with me because it is so true, people always have and always will see what they want to see as long as they are content. As soon as something disturbs their personal life then there are issues. Overall there were a lot of great quotes from the book, but these were some of my favourites. To bring my review to a close, I had a few discussion questions that I wanted to ask. Why would he author give away the curse and plot of the book right from the start? Can the effects of guilt truly alter a person's character? Are side stories withing the main plot confusing or distracting to the reader? And finally, does the idea of being cursed to lose weight relate to the state of o\the country as a whole in any way?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago