A Mississippi-born novelist and short fiction writer, he became known for works such as Geronimo Rex (1972) and Airships (1978). He received a Pulitzer Prize nomination and a National Book Award.
He earned his M.F.A. in fiction in 1967 from the University of Arkansas. While working as a writer, he taught at several southern universities.
His darkly witty literary works touch on such familiar southern themes as town drunks and catfish.
He had one daughter with his wife, Susan. He died of a heart attack at the age of sixty-seven.
His works were often compared by critics to those of fellow southern writer, William Faulkner.