Thinner Art
Works / Bachman Novels


Thinner Art


November 1984

Available Format(s)



New American Library (NAL)

Billy Halleck commits vehicular homicide when his lack of attention to driving results in the death of an old lady on the street. Overweight Halleck is a lawyer with connections, though, and gets off with a slap on the wrist. After his trial, a gypsy curses him with a single word, "Thinner." Halleck begins to lose weight uncontrollably and must pursue the band of gypsies who are responsible for his dwindling condition.

From the Flap

"Thinner," the old Gypsy man with the rotting nose whispered, and caressed his cheek, like a lover…

Billy Halleck, good husband, loving father, lives in Connecticut and practices law in New York City. He is both beneficiary and victim of the American Good Life: he has an expensive home, a nice family, and a rewarding job…but he is also fifty pounds overweight, and, as his doctor keeps reminding him, he is thirty-six years old-edging into heart attack country.

Then Billy Halleck sideswipes an old Gypsy woman as she is crossing the street in their quiet little southern Connecticut town of Fairview, and everything in his pleasant, upwardly mobile life changes. He is exonerated in the local court by a friendly judge and sheriff…but a blacker, far worse judgment has been passed on him, nevertheless. Billy Halleck begins losing weight. He is pleased at first, then worried, and finally terrified. He can't stop it. He eats and eats but the weight flies off.

Beginning in suburban Connecticut and climaxing in rural Maine, THINNER is a novel of one man's quest to find the source of his nightmare and to reverse it before he becomes…nothing at all.

This is a novel of unrelenting terror and growing horror; it is also a nightmarish allegory about what lies beyond the limits of prosperous American complacency and where the responsibilities of human actions ultimately lie. Read it-and you may never diet again.


"I used to weigh 236 pounds, and I smoked heavily. I went to see the doctor and he told me 'Listen, man, your triglycerides are really high. In case you haven't noticed it, you've entered heart attack country.' I used that line in the book. He told me that I should quit smoking and lose some weight. I spent a very angry weekend off by myself. I thought about it and how awful they were to make me do all these terrible things to save my life. I did lose the weight, and pretty much quit smoking. Once the weight actually started to come off, I began to realize that I was attached to it, somehow, that I didn't really want to lose it. I began to think about what would happen if somebody started to lose weight and couldn't stop. It was a pretty serious situation at first. Then I remembered all the things I did when I weighed a lot. I had a paranoid conviction that the scales weighed heavy, no matter what. I would refuse to weigh myself, except in the morning, and then after I had taken off all my clothes. It was so existential that the humor crept in after a while."


Hide List Show List
Owner of Bob's Speedy-Serv in Falmouth
Friend of Linda Halleck
Works with Bill Halleck
Girl who spoke to Bill Halleck in the park
Bartender in the Seven Seas bar in Old Orchard.
Arncaster, Lars
Let the Gypsies stay on his property outside Fairview
Baker, Ron
Works with Bill Halleck. Took over a case when Halleck was on leave.
Bean, Mrs.
Checks on Linda when Bill & Heidi are away
Blume, Judy
Writer mentioned in passing
Boynton, Hilmer
Local judge who Bill Halleck was in front of when his pants started to fall down in court
Callaghee, Mrs.
Shops and cleans for the Hopley's
Canley, ?
The name of a paint manufacturer, and Bill's case.
Chalker, Allen
Raintree chief of police
Crosskill, Richard
One of the Gypsies. Handed out fliers in the towns.
Deever, Georgina
Friend of Linda Halleck's
Duganfield, David
Bill's client in the Canley Case.
Enders, Lonnie (Flash)
In a bar in Old Orchard, and told Bill Halleck about seeing Taduz Lemke. Taught how to 'turn a tip' by Lonesome Bobby McGee
Fander, Mr.
Ginelli's friend who took the painkillers to Bill Halleck. Most likely a doctor.
Foxworth, Rand
Assistant chief of police in Fairview
Ginelli, Richard (Richie the hammer)
Owned the Three Brothers restaurant and helped Bill to have the curse removed from him. He was found murdered.
Gordon, ?
Friend of Leda Rossington
Greely, ?
Law firm partner in Greely, Penschley, Kinder and Halleck
Halleck, Heidi
William's wife
Halleck, Linda Joan
14-year-old daughter of Bill & Heidi.
Halleck, William J. (Bill)
Overweight lawyer who accidentally killed a Gypsy woman and is now paying the price by losing weight after being cursed. Law firm partner in Greely, Penschley, Kinder and Halleck. Father of Linda and husband of Heidi.
Heilig, Trey
Gypsy who spoke to Ellis Stoner about the shooting.
Hopley, Duncan
Fairview chief of police. He was given a bad case of acne by Taduz Lemke as a curse. Committed suicide.
Houston, Dr. Michael
William Halleck's doctor. Drug user
Houston, Jenny
Michael's wife. Possibly an alcoholic.
Houston, Samantha
Michael's daughter and friend of Linda Halleck. Bitch.
Kinder, ?
Law firm partner in Greely, Penschley, Kinder and Halleck
Lawlor, Grand
County Coroner
Lemke, Angelina (Gina)
One of the Gypsies. Sister of Samuel and granddaughter of Taduz Lemke. Shot Bill Halleck in the hand with a ball bearing.
Lemke, Samuel
One of the Gypsies. Brother of Gina. Juggler.
Lemke, Susanna
Old woman killed by Bill Halleck. Daughter of Taduz.
Lemke, Taduz
The Gypsy who puts a curse on Bill Halleck, Carey Rossington and Duncan Hopley after his daughter Susanna is hit and killed by Bill's car. The last of the great Magyar chief's. 105 years old, and has cancer on his nose.
Marley, Mrs.
The Rossington's cleaner
McGhee, Tommy
Taught Lonnie Enders a few things
Merchant, Zachary
Connecticut union bank manager
Nearing, Miss
Linda Halleck's phys ed and cheerleading teacher
Parker, John
Bill Halleck's assistant
Parsons, Mr.
Lived in Bangor, Maine and rented his property to the Gypsies through Biff Quigley
Penschley, Kirk
Law firm partner in Greely, Penschley, Kinder and Halleck
Petrie, Glenn
Friend of the Rossington's
Quigley, Frank (Biff)
Realtor in Bangor, Maine. Rented property of Mr. Parsons to the Gypsies and blackmailed Bill Halleck when Bill tried to find the location of the Gypsies.
Rangely, Tom
Police officer at the scene when Bill Halleck killed Susanna Lemke.
Richovsky, ?
Brooklyn dope dealer
Rickles, Don
Pest that picked on Bill Halleck about his weight.
Roberts, Jim
Revoked the Gypsies' fire permit to get them to move on from Fairview.
Rodgers, Mr.
Mentioned by Heidi Halleck
Rossington, Judge Cary
Judge who was in charge of Bill Halleck's case when he killed Susanna Lemke. Grew scales all over his body when cursed by Taduz Lemke.
Rossington, Leda
Carey's wife
Sayers, Dorothy
Mystery writer
Simonson, Rhoda
Linda's aunt who Linda went to and stayed with.
Spurton, Frank
Helped Ginelli follow the Gypsies.
Starbird, Maura
One of the Gypsies
Stevens, Yard
300 pound Barber in Fairview.
Stoner, Ellis
Fake FBI ID used by Ginelli
Tree, John
Assumed name used by Ginelli in Bar Harbor
Washburn, ?
Farmer that let the Gypsies stay on his property in Kenniston Hill
Yount, Dr.
Doctor at Glassman clinic who looked after Bill Halleck
Toggle Dark Mode Color Scheme