September 3, 2013 Constant Readers

Billy Halleck weighed 249 pounds, but that was before his wife decided it was a good idea to give him a handjob while he was driving. He hit a gypsy woman, was acquitted of any liability in her death, and was touched on the cheek by her super-old father outside the courthouse. The only thing he whispered to Halleck as he gave his cheek the old pedo-stroke was, “Thinner.”

Billy Halleck now weighs 246 pounds.

T-Minus in Running Man, miles in Long Walk, I think he uses time constantly in Rage, Roadwork probably had something. Number of brain cells the reader is losing.
Andrea: I don’t know, but it is effective here. It’s a flag so you can see exactly how fast he’s losing.
Pat: Yeah, no, it at least works this time.
Andrea: It’s his gimmick. Cool that fake King even has a different gimmick.
Pat: So Gypsies. When was the last time you saw a Gypsy caravan on the east coast?
Andrea: Never, ever, ever. Ever. Not even in the early 80s
Maybe there were Gypsies at the Berlin Mart and I just never noticed?
Pat: Not the kind of traveling Gypsies in this book, definitely not.
Andrea: South Jersey is more of the toothless Piney carnie contingent.
Pat: So this Billy Halleck is a fat one. Eats a lot, hides food around the house for snacks, so on and so forth.
Andrea: Yeah he’s always wolfing down Big Macs in the car before dinner. Disordered eating if I’ve ever seen it.
And they had their daughter pretty young apparently and his wife is still hot and youngish.
Pat: SEVERELY young. He’s, what, 35? And the daughter is 16, 17?
I mean, fuck. The only way we could have kids that age at our age is if we had them with each other.
Andrea: Oh man. I’m too young to deal with a teenager.
Pat: I don’t really like the Halleck family life. I don’t like lawyers, though, so maybe that’s part of it. This is all bleeding into The Unnamed in my head, because I read that just before. And it involves a lawyer with a disorder that makes him walk constantly, and his daughter is fat.
Andrea: They are all annoying. The daughter especially, don’t know why.
Pat: What the fuck is the wife’s name? I already forgot.
It’s a dumb name. Almost as dumb as Linda, the Dumbest of All Names.
Andrea: Heidi
Andrea: The names are all really 60s which is dumb cause it’s the 80s.
Pat: Heidi Halleck? Get the fuck out of my life.
Andrea: Yeah, is Heidi not the worst name? It sounds like Heinie.
Pat: That is some biting literary insight, right there.
So she’s never given him a handjob in the car before, which is probably why she didn’t know that a blowjob is more utile, and he sort of blames her for the accident.
Andrea: Not her fault you can’t handle your shiz, and it’s not like he told her to stop.
Pat: Cut him some slack, lady!
Andrea: Let me state for the record that it’s a blowjob in the movie.
Pat: Okay, look, this is important. I’m glad we’re getting to this. Because a man cannot think clearly when the possibility of sex is even vaguely on the table, let alone when he’s in the middle of getting a stroke-job. And Heidi should know that. She should know better. Her name’s Heidi, for Christ’s sake, she’s probably stroked off entire football squads in her youth.
Andrea: Why do you think Heidi is a promiscuous name?
Pat: Heidi? Because it’s tied to that stupid book set in the Alps.
Stripper names are generally very muted names. Candy? Fuck, it’s CANDY, man. Anyway: Heidi is a whore.
If you think about it, she basically used her husband’s penis as a joystick to direct the car right into the old Gypsy lady.
Andrea: OMG
I disagree. All his fault.
Andrea: And he tried to murder her.
Pat: Tried to murder who?
Andrea: Whatserface. Heidi. At the end with the pie.
In the study.
Pat: Jesus Christ, woman. I know you know that’s not for three hundred pages.
Pat: We’re talking about him at the BEGINNING OF THE BOOK, not after the EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES of nearly wasting away to nothing because of a Gypsy curse, after his doctor and wife try to have him declared mentally incompetent, after he’s had to chase Gypsies up and down the coast of New England while his ticker goes haywire, after his friend Ginelli gets involved.
This is why we go in ORDER.
Pat: You can talk about anything that happens in the beginning. Anything you’d like. Just don’t jump to literally the LAST TEN PAGES.

Andrea: Okay, so tell me what’s next.
Pat: How about the dreams he’s having?
Andrea: Weird as hell but not uncommon since he is guilty as sin.
Pat: He’s definitely guilty of vehicular manslaughter, but like he says, it’s not like the Gypsy woman crossed in a crosswalk. She came out from between two cars in the middle of a block.
All old and without reflexes.
Andrea: Jaywalkin’ bitches.
Pat: And he rightly points out that drivers who are temporarily distracted are the exact reason why you DON’T do that.
Andrea: So you think he did not deserve the gypsy curse, even though he got off scot-free thanks to his powerful friends?
Pat: She’s dead because he assumed people would behave sensibly around him, so he didn’t need to drive carefully, and she’s dead because she assumed everyone else was driving alertly, so she didn’t need to walk carefully.
Andrea: Or she was too old to even think clearly, period.
Pat: Let’s see, a 90-some-year-old woman dies instantly in a car crash. Justice is three people dying very slowly, very painfully, of wasting diseases?
I get that this is Taduz’s Gypsy Gyustice and all, but if it were justice, he would’ve killed them straight away. Made it quick. That’s justice. What he’s getting is revenge, and so no, I don’t think it’s deserved.
Andrea: Agreed.
Pat: Christ, a guy gets his ONLY vehicular handjob, probably the only stuff he’s going to get in the car ever, and he has to die slowly of anorexia gysosia?

The Hallecks go on a second honeymoon to celebrate Billy’s winning a long, drawn-out case against the bad guys. We learn that he used to be friends with a Mafioso and that, despite his weight loss, he is still eating and banging like a fat man. He’s plagued by dreams of the Gypsy woman and Gypsy man, and when his wife convinces him to hop on a fortune-telling weight machine, the fortune he’s giving is only one word: “Thinner.” He gets weighed again, after coming home and eating lasagna.

He’s down to 227 pounds. Probably 224 once he poops out all that lasagna.

Pat: That was fucking creepy, that fortune.
Andrea: Okay, the fortune with just one word on it was bothersome. Because later he’s like, oh that was just my imagination. Um, wouldn’t you save the fucking card? I would be so fucking creeped out
Pat: But that’s the point: he can’t pretend he imagined it if he KEEPS the card. He doesn’t want to prove there’s a Gypsy curse on him at that point.
Andrea: But if something that weird happened wouldn’t you keep it? If anything so that people would believe you later.
Pat: I’d set the fucking thing on fire. Why would I even want to talk about it later??

Billy isn’t the only one who’s been touched cheekwise. The judge who tried Billy for hitting the Gypsy woman is growing scales all over his body, and the chief of police, who whitewashed the investigation of the accident, is turning into a Pro-Activ commercial. By the time he meets ol’ Pussface, he’s convinced that the Gypsy curse is real. Problem is, his doctor and his wife both want him in a clinic getting tested.

Pat: Let me say this for the record: I liked that the cancer thing was dancing around everyone’s head, and I like that Billy kept eating the same way he had before, and that it was the only reason he probably didn’t just waste away in a week.
Andrea: The descriptions of him pounding Big Macs with juice dripping down his chin were so foul.
Pat: To be fair, anything involving Big Macs is pretty foul. That’s why they have to entice people with Monopoly prizes to get them to eat one.
Andrea: I have proudly never had a Big Mac. For real.
Pat: Neither have I. Whoop-de-doooooooo
Pat: So Billy sees his doctor, and his doctor don’t know shit.
Andrea: Anyways. He’s a big fat pig and then he starts losing weight and his wife and daughter are stoked for like a week. And then they get worried so he goes to Dr. Coke-Nose
Pat: I don’t know what to make of the coke thing. I get that it’s the 80s, but come on.
It does seem very Stuffy Old Boys Club of him. And this book is all about “Fuck the Stuffy Old Boys Club.”
Andrea: Yeah. “I’m gonna go find a cleaner place to live.” LOLZ
I thought this was the book with the part about feeling both hands on your shoulders during a colonoscopy, but it isn’t.
Pat: It is, you dummy.
Andrea: Hmmm. I don’t remember seeing it.
Pat: “Relax,” Houston said, snapping on the thin rubber glove. “As long as you can’t feel both of my hands on your shoulders, you’re all right.”
Andrea: Snort
No pun intended
Pat: Richard Bachman is the Squire guitars to Stephen King’s Fender.
Andrea: You think so? The Bachman Books was pretty boss.
Well, halfway boss.
Pat: There’s that bit where Billy is trying to explain to his daughter why Hopley rousted the Gypsies. And he itemizes each lie in his head, with the correlating precedents in law.
Andrea: I really liked that part.
Pat: I kind of dug that King did that. Granted, I don’t know if any of it’s TRUE.
Andrea: But before that, I really REALLY liked the part where it describes the gypsies coming to town and how all the rich kids are captivated.
Pat: Rich kids are captivated by anything. Fuckin’ rich kids.
Andrea: No, the opposite, they are bored by everything. That’s Bret Easton Ellis 101

Pat: So at some point Billy’s like, okay, maybe it’s not just me, and goes to see Judge Rossington’s wife.
Pat: “He’s growing scales. Cary is growing scales.”
Andrea: Man, his wife. What a horror show.
I felt kind of bad for her. I mean, they have separate beds while he’s banging everyone in town.
Pat: I have to assume that Taduz whispered “FISHERRRRR” to the judge.
Andrea: LIZARD
Pat: I guess that rhymes.
Andrea: He whispers, “LIZARD.”
Pat: Do they get into that? It’s not even discussed.
Andrea: I don’t know if they say that in the book but it’s in the movie.
Pat: Ahhhhh.
I think “FISHERRRRR” is funnier.
Andrea: They never mention what he says to the cop.
PIMPLE, I have to assume.
So old Leda “What Kind Of Fucking Name Is Leda?” Rossington is drunk as fuck and the judge is off at the Mayo Clinic.
I like the part when it describes her making the martini: gin and two olives.
As a side note, the idea of drinking all day into oblivion makes me want to wretch. Haven’t these people heard of pills?
Pat: Yeah, there’s a point where you just need a nap. I do not support day drinking, surprising all who hear it.
WC Fields used to make a martini by pouring in gin or vodka and whispering “vermouttthhhh” over the glass.
Andrea: That’s awesome
Pat: This is again the story in the middle of the story thing. It doesn’t drive me specifically nuts, but I think I’m developing an aversion to it, slowly.
Although it does have a great line: “All our worst revelations come in the bathroom, Billy thought.”
Andrea: I love it. Bite your tongue. This is a really good part in the movie too. It’s really campy. Maybe I just really like drunk old ladies.
Pat: Then there’s the part where she almost screams, seeing him, and Billy “had time to reflect that no human feeling was truly unique, although one might like to think so.”
Andrea: Yeah, and when the teenage skateboarder gets startled by him.
I will never forget this—I was about 20 and I was in TGI Friday’s for the late night thing, and there was a kid in there who was deformed to the point where he basically had no face.
Pat: Yeeesh
Andrea: I am pretty sure there is no worse feeling than being startled by the face of another person. It is like, profound revulsion and guilt.
Pat: Yeah, and we’ve got two wives here who have that ON TOP of the fact that they love these bozos. Or whatever the WASP equivalent of love was in the 80s. I guess it’s important that this back story comes to Billy, with the doctors and the experts all knowing immediately, being wrong, knowing immediately again, being wrong again, so on and so on. Or else we might’ve been stuck with Billy at that clinic for way longer than we are.
Andrea: That was the scariest part to me—imagining what it would be like to have this horrible medical thing that no one could figure out.
Pat: You can’t really test for “Gypsy curse.”

Billy calls Dr. Houston, who still doesn’t know the first fuck about what’s going on with Captain Weightloss, Champion of Girth, and is more than a little cagey about Rossington’s transformation into one of those albino alligators that live in the sewers of Manhattan. Halleck has done the math, though, and starts asking questions about the other man voted Most Likely To Receive A Gypsy Curse For Letting An Old Bitty Die: Duncan Hopley, chief of police.

Corporal Fatbody now weights as scant 176 pounds.

Pat: So Billy calls up and asks for time off from work and sets his firm’s private investigation team off to find the Gypsies. Then he goes and visits Houston again. Er, he calls him.
This is only remarkable for two reasons: he knows that something is probably weirdly wrong with Hopley, and it freaks Houston out that he’s figured that out.
Andrea: Houston is pissed as hell.
SK is pretty good at writing dickheads.
Pat: The other reason: “You were starting to sound a little like a Stephen King novel for a while there…”
He totally wanted to get found out as Bachman.
Pat: Oh shit, I forgot that this was a Bachman book when I highlighted that part. Which makes it less douchey, but also somehow more dickish.
Andrea: It is a veritable tongue-sticking-out to the reader.
Pat: “I didn’t actually take a crap,” King announces to the dinner party, “I was jerking off! Behind all of your backs!”
Andrea: lol wut?
Pat: He cackles madly. Everyone in the room is wondering if he washed his hands as he carves the turkey.

Right on: Billy goes to visit Hopley, who hasn’t been to work in a while, to see if the gypsy curse got him, too. Turns out the cop’s become a LIVING PIMPLE.
Andrea: I want to go on record saying this is the worst of the three curses. I’d totally watch a movie with like, all different gypsy curses and their effects.
Pat: I guess the book wouldn’t have been as workable if the Gypsy had done the right thing and made Billy expand.
But thinner? Why thinner? Because he is BEREFT of anything worthwhile inside? Despite the volume his body projects?
Andrea: Yeah, that probably would have actually been slower.
Pat: No, his heart would have eventually just burst.
Andrea: I mean, at first I thought it was the opposite of your biggest vice. But that doesn’t make sense for the other two.
Pat: Remember what Angelina says Taduz told her: “Great-grandfather says there are no curses, only mirrors you hold up to the souls of men and women.”
Andrea: Soooooooooo Billy has no substance. what about the other two. Judge is a slimy lizard? In his heart?
Pat: I guess? I mean, he’s a judge, there’s the symbolism of the scales, but I can’t make that connection jive.
He’s cold-blooded? That works.
Andrea: RIght. The pimple one is the one that I can’t get my brain around. The cop is oily as in unctuous?
Pat: Oh, shit, oily works.
Maybe something about being a boil on people’s backs? A sickness that lurks beneath the surface until it gets too big?
Andrea: Right. A literal pain in the ass, so to speak.
Pat: I did like the conversation between the two of them, though, that Hopley’s already got it figured out and has accepted it. Not his fate, but that it’s a curse.
Andrea: Yeah. And that he is going to kill himself. Which I would probably do in any of their shoes.
Pat: He probably couldn’t wear shoes at that point.
Andrea: What do you think was the worst: that or turning into a lizard or the acne thing?
Pat: The scales were bad because they’re growing INSIDE his mouth. Which makes it seem like it’s going to go right the fuck down his throat and out his butthole. That’s a horrifying death. But the boil-sized acne? That’s bad too, especially if you can’t sit or lay or stand because they’re everywhere. But at least they weren’t IN his mouth, down his throat. Or else he couldn’t have talked.
Andrea: Yeah, I think the acne was the worst. I mean, it didn’t seem like Halleck was in pain at all, or at least they didn’t really detail that part of it.
Pat: He wasn’t until later, and even that wasn’t exactly pain. There’s really not much worth discussing until he finally goes, you know what, something is fucking wrong here, and goes off to see where the fuck Judge Rossington disappeared to.
Andrea: Right. And then I noted that on some days he was even eating more.
Pat: So he tells Hopley his plan is to get the Gypsy to take the curse off. BRILLIANT STRATEGY, HALLECK.
“Hey, uh, would you mind uncursing me, good sir?”
There was something oddly infectious about the gypsy in the movie. Like the way he says “WHITE MAN FROM TOOOOOWN.”
Pat: See, I was imagining such an accent anyway, but that’s because I’m a learned reader with an ear for accents who sounds like an absolute asshole right now.
Andrea: Ha!

The bozo doctors at the Glassman Clinic still don’t know what the holy hell is happening to Halleck, and he’s like, “Hey, I’m out” even after they offer to pay for all the tests and whatnot.

Pat: Everything happens just like Leda Rossington says it happened for Cary. They ain’t know shit, but they act like they JUST NOW had an idea that could possibly pan out.
He tells ’em to fuck off because they remind him of the Three Stooges.
Andrea: The gleam in their eyes when they were trying to get him to stay so they could publish a paper about him or some shit was truly disturbing.
Pat: I like that he thinks he pinpoints the one who thinks it’s a deep psychological thing that’s never been proven or studied before because he looks the MOST antsy about getting him to stay.
Andrea: Right. I mean, the mental anorexia theory seemed the most plausible to me if it wasn’t a gypsy curse. Women get fake pregnancies where they actually get fat, so why not?

Heidi sends young Linda away, and she and Houston conspire to maybe have Billy committed. He parries by calling an old friend, a reputed Mafioso named Ginelli who works out of an Italian restaurant in New York. Sure.

Pat: First order of business: call Ginelli, tell him about SINISTER GYPSIES.
Andrea: I loved the Ginelli character. Why did he rule so hard?
Freaking lovable mobsters.
Pat: I liked him in the end. He’s got that honor-among-thieves shit that goes beyond. It’s not a deep morality, it’s more absolute justice, where morality doesn’t even really factor into things.
This guy fucks with you? I fuck with him. Doesn’t matter you killed his daughter.
Andrea: I hated that he died.
And that we didn’t know what happened to his body. And that Billy was just like, oh well, gonna cover his disembodied fist with my map and order a Big Mac.
Pat: You must hate ALL OF THE END then.
Andrea: You know who plays Fat Tony in the movie, right?
Pat: Is Fat Tony Richard Ginelli?
Andrea: Yes. I’m just gonna call him Fat Tony.
Pat: I really hope we can get through a book without you bringing up the Simpsons one of these days.
Andrea: It is everywhere.

The private dick gets back to Billy with some interesting information: Taduz Lemke is motherfucking 106 years old.

Pat: I dig that all this time we’ve been thinking the woman Billy hit with his car was the Gypsy man’s wife, and now we find out from the second phone call that she’s his daughter, and Taduz is—at least on paper—a hundred and six.
Andrea: And that he tells people he’s 120.
Pat: He could be 200 for all we really know, is the implication I got.

Billy writes Heidi a letter saying he’s off to join the circus. Well, off to find the circus. Well, not the circus. More a carnival. Actually, just a fun-and-games caravan run by a man with a rotting nose. Mid-life crises, amiright?

Andrea: Is this book racist against gypsies?
Pat: I don’t know that it’s racist. We’re talking about a small subset of modern people with Gypsy blood.
Pat: Most people with any Gypsy in them don’t caravan around anymore. It’s still a problem in Europe with the Romani and all, but here? By virtual of the setting, it’s not racist, because it’s already so outlandish.
Andrea: Let’s pause there, I have to go to my 2 p.m. meeting.

Billy takes off after the Lemke Family Travelling Carnival And Diet Workshop, weighing a roughly Kate Moss pounds.

Pat: Not much happens while he’s following after the Gypsies, trying to go all Sam Spade and track their movements up the coast.
Andrea: Yeah, that was kind of boring.
Pat: Although there’s the story at the bar from the super old guy, who basically says that Taduz was more or less already ancient when they first met decades ago.
Andrea: Also, Bar Harbor was nothing like they described in the book, at least not when I went there.
Pat: Did you go because it was in Thinner?
Andrea: I didn’t even remember it was in Thinner.
Pat: “That was what he saw in the face of Taduz Lemke—he was the very eyes of age. In those eyes Billy saw a deep knowledge that made all the twentieth century a shadow, and he trembled.”
Andrea: That’s a good line.
Pat: While Billy’s listening to Lonnie’s schpiel in Old Orchard Beach, there’s this bit: “…the Gypsies always scared me a little—difference was, back then I would have gone in anyway. Hell, I was a white man, wasn’t I?”
Can I go all white-man’s-burden on this shit and postulate that the book might have a certain The Minorities Are Becoming The Majority fear going on?
I’m not saying on King’s part, but as a sort of thematic echo of the 80s, when that was no doubt what the fuck white people were thinking.
Andrea: Um, yeah
The brown-skinned folks encroaching on their tony suburb.
Pat: Which, talk about microcosm: the Gypsies are white, just not white enough.
Andrea: Also: the weird sexual undertone of the discussion of Gina.
Pat: He mentions wondering how she’d “be” earlier. Something like, “an ocean getting ready to storm.” Bitch, the ocean doesn’t storm.
Andrea: Yeah, it was gross. Like, they were disgusted by her but wanted to fuck her anyway. Cause she’s the “other” so she must be dirty.
Pat: Look, he didn’t have his sexy lady in the book. It had to come around somewhere.
King must have his sexy ladies.
When he’s tooling around Old Orchard, he has that moment where he’s looking around at everyone, and he’s sort of sickened by it all. By the whiteness of it, it seems. And it isn’t here, I don’t think, but sometime later, he decides straight out that he is never going back to Fairview and the whole white parade.
Andrea: Yeah, he plans to take Linda and go somewhere cleaner. Away from the banality of it. I liked the phrase “drift trade.”
Pat: Drift trade is awesome. And that’s in contradistinction to “pushers.”
Which SOUNDS like he means “whiter,” and it may mean that, but I kind of took it as meaning less white.

Just before he finds the Gypsies, Ol’ Billy Halleck learns that Houston and Heidi have likely had him declared mentally unfit and have definitely turned his own detective agency around on him instead of the Gypsies. It’s all good though, because Billy has caught up with the Gypsies, and now he’s just going to saunter his gaunt ass into their camp. Good ideas abound!

Pat: And boom, we’re in the camp.
Well, at the edge of it, with Billy realizing that the old fucker knows he’s coming. Has known all along. Because he has the SHINE IN HIM actually probably not.
Andrea: He is the least shiniest dude ever.
Pat: No, Taduz. Obviously not Billy.
There’s something about the insistence on not translating the Romani dialogue that really pushes the otherness to another level. Except it kind of makes Billy the other, in a way. And any readers who don’t speak Romani.
Andrea: Which is, I assume, all of them.
Pat: Probably not a lot of Gypsies chomping at the bit to read this book.
Andrea: How about the little detail of Gina taking correspondence courses?
Pat: Again, now that I’m keyed into the immigrant/other/racial thing, it’s like a detail out of a Douglas Sirk film. It’s sort of mawkish. “Oh! She’s taking correspondence courses! She wants to hang up the slingshot and toss the ball bearings and become a:
—Vet technician
—TV/VCR repair
—Nurse assistant
—Taco scooper
Andrea: Librarian? You need a master’s degree for that shit.
Andrea: Yeah, but that didn’t fit in with the joke. Because all the other ones were things that you could get through a correspondence course.

Everyone is extremely unhappy to see what’s left of Billy. Especially Angelina, the Lemke of Highest Hottest.

Pat: So lame: “…in spite of all that had happened, in spite of how much he had lost of himself, he was aware that he still wanted her.”
Pat: I’m having trouble fitting this constant bonerism in with any sort of theme. Is it that SEX SPANS ALL RACIAL DIVIDES?
Andrea: He is one of the most unlikeable protagonists in al SK history.
Pat: All of a sudden, Marty Coleslaw wheelchairs through the camp and throws a firecracker in Taduz’s face.
Andrea: Yes.
Pat: Lemke is all, “Do you know Rom?” like five seconds before calling him “White man from town.” Look, motherfucker, if he’s the “white man from town,” of course he doesn’t speak fucking Romani, what are you, stupid?
Andrea: I love that. It is the key phrase from this book.
Pat: Nah, it’s “I NEVER TAKE IT OFF.”

Billy starts to lawyer up: it ain’t his fault the Gypsy bitch is dead, she should’ve crossed at the light, not from between two cars, Taduz should’ve been watching her, Billy should have been paying more attention, Heidi shouldn’t have been giving him a stroke-job, and on and on. He says the whole thing is a push. And just to drive things home a bit, he gives them Linda’s address to see just how into real justice they are.

Pat: I would say, “She’s very beautiful” is right up there on the list of Dumb Things To Say To A Villain, just under “Do you trust your wife?”
Andrea: HA
Pat: Although him writing down Linda’s address, whew boy.
“If they can’t figure this mess out, maybe they can get together someday and shoot each other and then their kids can give it a try. What do you think, old man does that make any more sense than this shit?”
Andrea: OH yeah and then he’s all, my daughter is just okay, she’s no ocean before a storm, but I like her.
Pat: That was some clever thinking. He should be a lawyer.
Andrea: WTF Halleck?
Pat: It makes sense, rhetorically. I liked it.
Do you agree that the whole situation was a push?
Andrea: I didn’t even really know what he meant by a push. Does it mean that everything cancels out?
Pat: It means everyone gets their money back, no one wins or loses.
Andrea: I also liked, “NO POOOSH.”
Andrea: NOT NEVER.
Pat: Agree or disagree?
Andrea: Ummmmm, yeah, I think that they both lost. So I guess I don’t agree.
Pat: I mean, by this point. At the camp. All that’s happened is Taduz’s daughter is dead, possibly Rossington has committed suicide already, and Halleck has dropped, what, 120lbs. by now?
Andrea: It also begs the question: what responsibility does an elderly person have for caring for his elderly daughter?
Pat: Especially when the elderly person in question has the power of PRECOGNITION?
Oh, I’d say a lot of responsibility. I mean, come on. This guys has these powers of clairvoyance and cursing, and he’s too stupid to keep one of his magical eyes on his doddering old raisin of a daughter?
Andrea: I guess. So that begs the question, did he foresee the car hitting her?
Pat: Who the fuck knows. He seems to have about as much foresight as Halleck for the important stuff.
So I say it is a push.
Andrea: No, a POOSH
Pat: Also, it begs the question of why you keep saying things beg the question.
Andrea: Cause things keep begging the question.

Gina shoots a slingshot at Billy and puts a ball-bearing-sized hole in his hand, which isn’t good news for a man who weighs as much as three wet paper towels. So Billy says, hey, fair enough: but now I put my own curse on you, the curse of the white men from town. Which is when he calls Ginelli, who sends out a doctor and sets the Curse in motion.

Pat: At first, the curse of the white men from town seems laughable and dumb, but after a little while, it’s like, oh shit, anything but that!
Andrea: The dead dogs and whatnot.
Pat: Before that. Just the idea of it.
Andrea: Yeah, cause white men are historic life-ruiners
Pat: So he gets it in the hand from the slingshot, Ginelli sends out a doctor to fix him up. He’s starting to have minor arrhythmic episodes. He goes into sick mode for a while, and Ginelli brings the curse on.
Andrea: That was so gross. And holy depressing, him in the disgusting hotel room in pain waiting for Ginelli to return
Andrea: That is a kind of pasta that I really like.
That’s why I keep typing it by accident.
Pat: Obviously this is your favorite part because you are half goombah.
Andrea: Who said it was my favorite part?
Pat: I just did.
Andrea: Aren’t you Italian too?
Andrea: Meh. I don’t know if I have a favorite part
Pat: Meh? You didn’t like Ginelli’s war on the Gypsies?
Andrea: I didn’t dislike it! I just don’t know if it was my favorite part. Mostly because all I can picture now is freaking Joe Mantegna.
Is it YOUR favorite part?
Pat: I would say it’s the most engaging part, yeah.
Even the beginning, when it’s just Billy in bed, seeing GInelli come and go mysteriously, showing up with cuts and shit and not telling him what’s he’s been up to.
Andrea: So finally skinny-ass Billy hobbles over to the camp and gets him to take it off.
Wait that is not what happens
Pat: No, that’s not what happens.
Andrea: LOLZ
Pat: Jesus Christ, you’re going out of order and INTO STUFF THAT ISN’T IN THE BOOK.
Andrea: Tee hee

Ginelli arrives while Halleck’s tachycardic ass is in and out of consciousness, and he won’t tell Billy much about what’s doing with the Gypsies. He weights 118lbs. now, almost enough to qualify for Government Recognition as an Olsen Twin. Ginelli sics a local boy after the Gypsies; he poisons their prized dogfighting dogs; he takes a machine gun down to the camp in the middle of the night and sprays the whole caravan; sneaks in after the attack, posing as an FBI agent, threatens to toss acid on Gina’s face. You know, like in Disney movies.

Pat: So you’ve got nothing to say about Ginelli.
Andrea: I said a lot about Ginelli. I like him but it is also flawed by the fact that I picture Joe Mantegna.
Pat: Getting the kid to follow the Gypsies, scope them out, then tying their guards to a fucking tree and killing all their prize pitbulls?
Andrea: Yeah! That was messed up. Although I was totally with him in the thinking that being poisoned was better than fighting to the death.
Pat: Sort of a rationalization, but again, that’s that weird mobster idea of justice.
Andrea: What did you think about the structure of Ginelli telling Billy and that is how we find out what happens?
Pat: I liked it, because the section where he’s just in the dark, fading in and out with sickness, is cool.
Andrea: Yeah, and it puts us in his position of finding out the story slowly. It’s pretty effective.
Pat: And then we get it all. I know that runs counter to what I’ve said the last few books with the MAGICAL BACKSTORY MAN, but fuck it. This book is already lousy with it, and at least it’s done well.
Then the spraying of the caravan at night with a machine gun. WTF?
Andrea: Gimelli is people who know people. I think the most effective thing from this section was the acid threat to Gina.
Pat: Oh, that was good, sneaking in as an FBI agent.
And getting her to come with him. What is she, stupid? AREN’T THERE ANY CORRESPONDENCE COURSES ON HAVING SOME GODDAMN SENSE, GINA?
Andrea: And the fact that all the documentation was real, leaving Halleck to wonder what happened to the agent.
Pat: RIGHT-O. Except it could’ve just been a badge that an FBI agent lost.
Andrea: Right. But I prefer the more ominous version.
Pat: I mean, FBI agent’s fate he’s worried about, but the pusher kid who gets a ball-bearing in his head, no big deal?
That is all I can think of when I hear the word “pusher.”
Pat: I question the sense of Ginelli writing “Billy Halleck says take it off” on a note.
Andrea: I thought he said “white man from town says take it off,” but I could be wrong.
Pat: “William Halleck says take it off.” Direct quote.

This campaign against the Gypsies—all told in conversation to Billy, who is now doing a bit better, all things considered, but is still mostly entirely dead—is a success, because Taduz decides to meet with Halleck and take the damn curse off already. Ginelli and Billy head to Bangor, where Ginelli will silently scope the scene from afar, ready to sulfur-and-brimstone anyone trying to take Billy out. This seems largely unnecessary, because Taduz brings a… pie? The idea here: Billy puts his curse into this pie and then feeds it to someone else, who will then get the wasting jinx. Oh, happy day!

Andrea: So he goes to meet him in the park and there’s a pie that’s throbbing with the pulsing fetus of a gypsy curse.
Pat: Jesus. Leave the descriptions to the author.
I had to skim most of that part because holy disgusting shit, Batman. The squeezing of Billy’s hand wound to drip blood into the pie? Get the fuck out of my life.
Andrea: OH MAN that was disgusting. What about the floating strawberries in the muck of the pie? Shudder.
The worst part is how the pie was warm, even after he took it home.
Pat: Gahhh. And the magical slit that closed itself back up after it absorbed his blood.
Andrea: ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh
So he decides he’s gonna feed this curse pie to his wife, goes back to the car, FINDS GINELLI’S FUCKING FIST, drives home, stops for a Big Mac, and plots his revenge.
Pat: “Plots” is kind of a strong word.
Andrea: Plans?
Andrea: Decides on?
Pat: I really hope King wasn’t slanting for a “humble pie” analogy here. He should’ve fed it to Houston as a peace offering, man about who Billy once remarked, “I’m not going to cry in front of a man that tells nigger jokes.”
Andrea: Yeah, that was stupid of him.
Pat: It gets all fucking Shakespearean tragedy, this ending.
Andrea: So he gives it to his wife. And DEN DEN DEN—Linda eats it too. The whole thing was somewhat anticlimactic, especially compared to the movie,
Pat: I didn’t remember that that was what happened, but it seemed inevitable that Linda would get it somehow.
Andrea: But it doesn’t say what happens to them. Just that there are two used pie-plates in the sink in the morning.
Pat: They die, of course.
Rapidly. That’s what the idea was: the curse gets intensified for some reason.
What caught me off guard is that Billy decides, ah fuck it, when he makes the discovery and has himself a slice too.
Andrea: In the movie, he wakes up in bed next to Heidi, and turns her over, AND HER WHOLE FUCKING FACE IS GONE.
It’s just a bloody mess.
Pat: ???
How… how does that even tie in to the curse?
Andrea: I DON’T KNOW.
Pat: Like, in her heart of hearts, does she have NO FACE?
Andrea: Also in the movie: the doctor comes to the door in the morning and Billy invites him in for pie. They eat it together.
Pat: I can get behind that.
For some reason, I thought that someone at some point was going to bang Gina the Gypsy Great-Granddaughter.
Andrea: No. I mean, they make it seem like that’s going to happen but it doesn’t.
Pat: Not even in the movie?
Andrea: Nope.
Pat: What’s the uptake here? Because he doesn’t accept his responsibility for the Gypsy woman’s death, everyone dies?
Andrea: Yeah, that’s about the size of it. He saved himself but sacrificed his wife and daughter cause he’s a selfish pig.
Pat: You cool with that level of justice?
Andrea: Um…not really?
Pat: So you don’t think it’s fair.
Andrea: I thought that it wasn’t as much Heidi’s fault as his, and obviously Linda was an innocent. He should have sacrificed himself for them.
Let them take the life insurance and live happily ever after.
That’s my pragmatic view anyway
Pat: I don’t understand why it’s more his fault than hers.
Andrea: Because he was behind the wheel so he accepted the responsibility that entails. And he didn’t stop her. I mean, it’s not anyone’s fault totally. That’s why it’s such a conundrum. But he obviously cared deeply for Linda and it seems like her death is punishment.
Pat: So in the end, we’ve got five dead white men and women from town in exchange for one Gypsy woman in her 90s.
That’s kind of shitty.
Andrea: Yes. Obviously not fair.
Andrea: Damn those gypsies.
OR: are they also paying for the crimes of the white man in general?
Pat: Yeah, I think that’s the idea. Kind of humdrum.
I liked the book, but it takes a while to get going. There’s a lot of dicking around. I say that about every book.
Andrea: You sure do. Ranking?
Pat: I’d say it’s in the middle.
Andrea: Agreed. It is one of the better Bachman books overall though.
Pat: My patience was definitely growing…
Andrea: Don’t say it.
Pat: …thin.
Andrea: I quit forever.

Current Rankings
  1. Carrie &       Cujo &       Pet Sematary   2. The Shining &       The Stand &       Christine   3. The Long Walk &       Apt Pupil   4. Rage &       Shawshank &       Thinner   5. ‘Salem’s Lot   6. Firestarter &       The Gunslinger &       The Body &       The Talisman   7. The Dead Zone &       The Breathing Method   8. Running Man   9. Cycle Of The Werewolf 10. Roadwork   1. Shawshank   2. The Long Walk   3. Christine   4. Pet Sematary   5. The Stand   6. The Talisman   7. Apt Pupil   8. Rage   9. Cujo 10. The Gunslinger 11. ‘Salem’s Lot 12. The Shining 13. The Dead Zone 14. Firestarter 15. Thinner 16. The Body 17. Carrie 18. The Running Man 19. Cycle Of The Werewolf 20. The Breathing Method 21.Roadwork