Buncombe Brief Book Review

Buncombe Brief Book Review: Thinner By Stephen King

While this isn’t one of King’s more famous novels, it’s a good story and one that poses a lot of questions.  I think the main character is also complicated in that he goes through a lot of changes (physically and emotionally) but I’m not so sure we can say he’s learned his lesson in the end.  The novel focuses on Billy Halleck who hit a woman with his car who is part of a traveling band of gypsies. The father of the woman then curses Billy. Billy, being a massive man, obese and a man of means, starts to lose weight as a result of being freed from any wrongdoing of killing the woman with his car.

The novel surrounds Billy figuring out what is wrong with him, and has his fears that he’s been cursed confirmed when he finds out the judge in his case and sheriff have both been cursed in their own way.  He confronts the gypsy man that cursed him and finds no compassion from the old man, who keeps demanding that justice be served.

Finally, Billy turns to his friend Richie, who is a mobster, to help him intimidate the group and convince the old man that cursed him to remove it. This leads to violent confrontations and eventually the old man is convinced to take off the curse but only if Billy “moves” the curse to someone else.  A pie is doused in Billy’s blood and he’s told that anyone who eats the pie will take the curse. Billy returns home and has his wife eat a piece of pie, only to find out the next morning his daughter has as well. After all this, he sits down to have a piece of pie too as he sees he’s lost everything.  

This ending is curious because, throughout the novel Billy begins to blame his wife for hitting the woman, he starts to hate her because of her concern and disbelief about the curse and this all boils to a massive amount of blame-shifting.  While his wife isn’t entirely innocent, his want to curse her shows that Billy has learned little from his ordeal, and he curses his daughter to boot.

For me, I felt bad for Billy but also thought he needed to face more justice than he did.  Mind you, I don’t know if the curse was the thing he deserved but I can see both points of view from the old man and Billy.  While this book isn’t a very happy one, with the character growing and learning a lot about himself, it’s still a fun read by the master of horror, so check it out.