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"Art is the Only Way Really to Express Yourself" After a stint on Karin's brother's farm, Thornburg went to work as a purchasing agent for his father's company in Chicago, and for a time he followed a more traditional road. He told years later that even then his goal was "to be a writer, to do that and not go to work.He and Karin had three children: Kristen "Kris" (b. Art is the only way really to express yourself, without commercial or even social considerations" (Cornwell).Unsophisticated maybe, and maybe not many with a lot of book smarts, but he saw that some of them were just as smart and cunning, and in their own ways a hell of a lot more dangerous, than their Coastal counterparts.Ranching in Missouri left a profound impression on Thornburg, according to his son Doug: "I think Dad learned a lot out there about people which helped him be a better writer" (Dougherty interview). The story of two buddies from California who hatch a scheme to blackmail a rural Missouri tycoon, it captures the dejected spirit of mid-1970s America in a tale of two lost souls trying to find the big score.More exposure indeed: Not long after the book was published the film rights were sold for 0,000 (equivalent to 4,000 in 2016) to Hal Wallis (1898-1986), a high-profile film producer of such classics as .Thornburg worked on the screenplay for the film, but it was never made.Thornburg's first novel, came out during these nomadic years.Published in 1967 by Fawcett Publications, the book has some of the hallmarks that would appear in Thornburg's next books: an alienated central character, moving through life with the baggage of failed family relationships and dealing with the hand he's been dealt; searching for a resolution but seldom finding it -- or perhaps more accurately, finding it all right. The book didn't get much attention, but now Thornburg had a better idea of what might sell.
The book sold to Little, Brown, and Company, a long-established American publisher, and Thornburg got more exposure than he'd had with his prior two books.
The sudden wealth allowed him to achieve two dreams. This was a natural for Thornburg, a rather distant man who was not particularly interested in working with others.
But the money opened a second door for him, and one that would have a huge, and unforeseen, impact on both his life and his work. He didn't know anything about Southwestern Missouri either.
His son Doug recalled, "He'd go to church and hear a sermon on 'love thy neighbor' ...
but when he'd leave church he'd hear the same people slamming their neighbors" (Dougherty interview). I'm an atheist and that is certainly a pretty bleak and hopeless outlook" (Cornwell).