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Stephen King's Thinner: A Review

Updated on October 2, 2015

Be careful what you wish for....

Not one of the better known Stephen King books, writing as he was under his Richard Bachman guise, but its one I really enjoyed. Richard Bachman?, I hear some of you cry....Richard Bachman was a persona invented by Stephen King, for reasons I'll explain further down. For this reason, some of his books has escaped notice, even when re-published as Stephen King books. Thinner was the fifth and (unintendedly so) final book of Richard Bachman's career, the first to be published in paperback and hardback; Thinner was dedicated to "Claudia Inez Bachman", Bachman's (also fictional) wife, complete with a fake author photo of Bachman on the dustjacket.

I like this book because King, or Bachman, puts a nice spin on an old formula.There is a wicked undercurrent throughout the whole book.The main character, Billy Halleck,is technically the hero of the book, but after reading it it becomes less clear, and he may even be the villain. At the very least, as the book reveals, even if he wins he has already lost.

Why Richard Bachman?

The invention of Richard Bachman was due to two factors - one was that Stephen King was too prolific a writer, and his publishers would not publish his books at the rate he wrote them; the second was, King wanted to see if people were buying his books because they were good, rather than just 'King' books. Thinner, as Bachman, sold 28000 copies, but once King was revealed as the author it increased tenfold.

Interested? - make your wallet thinner!

Something to Chew On...A Review.

Credit: Stephenking.com
Credit: Stephenking.com

In a nutshell, the plot revolves around Halleck, a large, obese man, being cursed by an old gypsy, Lemke,after killing the gypsy's daughter while driving his car.He gets off the manslaughter charge in court, being a lawyer himself, and helped by his friends the local court judge and town sheriff. After the verdict, the gypsy touches Halleck's face, and just says the word 'Thinner'. He then starts to waste away, and King uses the great gimmick of having the individual chapter headings in pounds, reflecting Halleck's falling weight (280, then 265, then 250 etc). Halleck also discovers his two friends have also been cursed, with terrible consequences.

Halleck starts to unravel, suspecting his wife of having an affair with the local doctor, and of wanting him committed. he goes on the run, brings in an old mobster acquaintance, Ginelli, who he had once represented, who uses physical violence and threats against the gypsy's, and forces the old gypsy to lift the curse. it's a victory of sorts, but by the books end we find that no curse can ever be truly lifted.

Personally, I think its an underrated book. Paced well, nice plot, has several themes running (are the new ways best? is the curse real? does it have power only because we think it does? does the end justify the means?) and delivers a great twist at the end. What more do you want?!

The book never outstays its welcome, and is a recommended read. Just be prepared not to eat pie for awhile....

Picture Credit: Stephenking.com

The Death of Richard Bachman...

Thinner was never intended to be the last book for Bachman, but an enterprising book store clerk 'outed' King as Bachman, and a press release in 1984 announced Bachman had died from "cancer of the pseudonym, a rare form of schizonomia". King later released the book 'Misery' under his own name, which originally was going to be Bachman's 6th book.

Bachmans Revenge...

Although Bachman 'died' in 1984 he has remained an influence on Kings work. The 1987 film, The Running Man, based on the book was credited to Richard Bachman alone. Stephen Kings 1989 book 'The Dark Half' was directly inspired by Bachman, and deals with the pseudonym of a writer taking on a life of its own. King dedicated it to "the deceased Richard Bachman". In 1996 an unpublished Bachman manuscript was 'found' and published as 'The Regulators', and in 2007 'Blaze' was published similarly.

Your turn - Write a review, add a comment, or debate someone who disagrees with you.

Good Stephen King, or King-Lite?

Rate it, if you dare...

On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?

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Thinner Movie Trailer

Best line in the book....

'Thinner'

Postscript of utmost importance

If you buy any of the books recommended above, this page automatically makes a donation to the incredible nonprofit, Donors Choose, which helps provide classrooms and students in need with resources that our public schools often lack.

Guestbook Comments

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    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 

      5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I read Thinner a long time ago. It was very enjoyable. This is a great review. Interesting info on the Bachman/King persona.

    • mamabrat lm profile image

      mamabrat lm 

      5 years ago

      I have read many of Steven Kings books including IT, The Stand, Hearts in Atlantis, and Pet Cemetary but Thinner is still one of my all time favorites.

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 

      6 years ago

      Great book! Stephen King is one of my favorites :)

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for another great lens - Didn't know about this book or his Richard Bachman books - sometimes life gets in the way of really following what's going on in the book world - it's a shame but true. Thanks again. Enjoyed the lens.

    • FloridaDino profile imageAUTHOR

      FloridaDino 

      6 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: He did release it initially as Richard Bachman, so many missed it first time round. Its a good read, shorter than many of his books. Thanks for commenting

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      this is one of Stephen Kings' books that I missed. His stories always grip me and I can't stop reading.

    • FloridaDino profile imageAUTHOR

      FloridaDino 

      6 years ago

      @jolou: He wrote it under alias, as Richard Bachman before being 'outed'; he wanted to see if people would buy his books without his name on them. Its a nice little tale. Thanks for the visit.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 

      6 years ago

      Haven't heard of this one but Stephen Kings' books are really good.

    • FloridaDino profile imageAUTHOR

      FloridaDino 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: Tis indeed . Underrated I feel. Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I read Thinner many years ago. It is a good read!

    • bigjoe2121 profile image

      bigjoe2121 

      6 years ago

      @FloridaDino: thanks :) I don't know though. I picked one up in the bookstore a few months back and read a few lines and it was too much for me. I love the way he writes - I just can't do anything the jerks the emotions anymore. I can barely watch disney movies, lol.

    • FloridaDino profile imageAUTHOR

      FloridaDino 

      6 years ago

      @bigjoe2121: Never too late to return! Actually a lot of King's later work has drifted away from horror to more thriller-like, worth looking. Try his latest one, it's good....thanks for commenting!

    • FloridaDino profile imageAUTHOR

      FloridaDino 

      6 years ago

      @KimGiancaterino: I like it. Let me know what you think! Thanks for the comment

    • bigjoe2121 profile image

      bigjoe2121 

      6 years ago

      I read every Stephen King book ever written, including this one, until 2003. that was the year my son was born. I lost my taste for scary stuff after that.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 

      6 years ago

      This is one Stephen King book I haven't read yet, but I'll check it out.

    • FloridaDino profile imageAUTHOR

      FloridaDino 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for popping by!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Thin is in - Thinner is inner! :))

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