Billy Halleck is an obese man, but also a successful lawyer. Though his life is changed forever when he is charged for vehicular manslaughter when he hits a gypsy woman while being given a hand job by his wife (Heidi Halleck). Though he was able to avoid jail time thanks to the local police chief and the standing judge-both whom happen to be close friends of Billy- "taking it easy" on him. Upon leaving the courthouse, the gypsy woman's ancient father gently stroked his cheek and whispered one word- "thinner". This worried Halleck, though the startled feeling didn't linger, as he began losing weight rapidly- much to the joy of his family who were enjoying the fact that he was becoming healthier- or so they thought. Though when many days had passed, he noticed that his weight loss was irregular, and that he had been cursed. He also discovered that the judge that called the biased trial had been cursed to grow scales and the police chief was cursed with horrible acne.
He knew the only way to stop the curse was to locate the gypsy troupe and call upon the older gypsy man to remove the curse. He called upon the services of an old client-and mafia figure- Richard Ginelli to help him. Ginelli quickly replied, helping Halleck find the gypsy man and remove the curse. Though it doesn't end with the curse simply being "lifted", the old gypsy man transfers the spirit of the curse into a pie, and tells Halleck to feed it to somebody quickly before it returns to him. Feeling vengeful towards his wife for trying to admit him to an insane asylum for "blabbering" about a gypsy curse, and for ultimately causing the whole accident to occur, he leaves the pie out one night for her to eat. On this night his daughter, who he loved dearly, was away. He awakes in the morning to find his wife dead, and two plates in the sink. He assumes his daughter has eaten the pie, and feeling guilt and sorrow, takes a piece for himself.
The main issue of this novel is the curse placed upon Billy Halleck by the gypsy man out of vengeance and what he goes through to remove it before it kills him. Many relationships were made and broke throughout this process. The first relationship that was blatantly clear in the story was the love and affection shared between Billy and Heidi Halleck, sadly the loving relationship is what ended up costing them their relationship, and creating many more for Billy, which most of shared hatred. The relationship between the two also created the major issue in the plot. This also created another relationship between the ancient gypsy man and Billy Halleck. There's obviously hatred traded between the two, Billy after all did kill the man's daughter. When Billy brings his old client onto his side in this relationship and they start threatening more of the gypsy man's family so he will lift the curse, they end up unwillingly working together for a short time to rid of the curse. Though to lift the curse, Billy is forced to destroy the already crumbling relationship between him and his wife, and does this by passing the curse onto her. He may have also ended any possible relationship with his daughter as he may have passed the curse to her to, though there is no clear answer whether she ate the pie. There weren't a lot of gender issues in the novel; the issue that was set between opposite genders wasn't caused by the actual gender, but an action performed to one another. The same goes for generation gaps, the gap between Halleck and the gypsy man wasn't due to the age of either man, but rather due to the circumstances of what happened to one man's family member and how Halleck got out of trouble.
The issue is revealed quite quickly after the trigger incident. In my opinion it was revealed when the gypsy man confronted Halleck and cursed him, this happened immediately after the trial which was in a way rigged to favour Halleck. It wasn't solidified as an issue though until Halleck realized he was cursed, at which time he started to confront the gypsy man and chase him, because if he didn't, he would die since he was cursed to get "thinner" as time goes along until he turned into nothing. This is what triggered the major advances in the plot line, when he called Ginelli and asked for help to chase down the gypsy. It opened up new areas of the story and allowed for more chances for the characters to show their true colours as they encountered more people- both enemies and friends- and reacted to them accordingly. Though I agree in the long run that what Halleck did to the gypsy man and his family was right since he had to save himself, I don't agree with what he did to his wife at the end of the book. I don't feel she deserved what he did to her, she only looked to help him and he ended up murdering her. Though he ended up paying for it in the long run, when his daughter supposedly took a piece of the pie. He knew then that he had made a mistake, and notably regretted it as shown in these quotes:"Billy Halleck pushed open the door at the end of the hallway and saw his daughter, Linda, asleep in her bed, one arm across her face. Her old teddy bear, Amos, was in the crook of her other arm.
No. Oh, no. No, no.
He hung on to the sides of the door, swaying dreamily back and forth." (King, 316)"He turned then and ran for the stairs. Terror had made him double-joined and he shambled like a sailor at sea.
No, not Linda! his mind screamed. Not Linda! God, please, not Linda!" (King, 317)Overall, the book was good. It created a lot of suspense throughout the story, created mostly by the "life and death" stipulation placed on whether or not Halleck found the gypsy man or not. It was definitely a shocking book; there were many times where you couldn't decide who was the protagonist and the antagonist. With the most shocking part of the novel coming at the end where he murders his wife, and accidentally murders his daughter- then kills himself. The issues did require a stretch of the imagination to understand, but I found it hard to understand one in particular. The ending was confusing for me; I didn't feel that Stephen King created a justified reason for Halleck to kill his wife. He could have built a little more tension by including Heidi in more scenes and used her as more of an antagonist character to anger Billy to the point where he wanted to kill her. Overall, the book was enjoyable, the plot was sensible (for a fiction book), and the issues were generally made and explained well. The greatest part about reading it though was the shock that came at the end, and the suspense building up to it.
Work CitedKing, Stephen. Thinner. New York, NY: Signet, 1984.