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.
"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."