An American novelist and short-story writer associated with literary minimalism, he is best known for works such as Family Dancing (1984), The Lost Language of Cranes (1986), and The Body of Jonah Boyd (2004). During his time as a creative writing professor at the University of Florida, he founded a literary journal called Subtropics.
He graduated from Yale University and subsequently taught at Princeton.
He was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylania. Openly gay, he often explored LGBT themes in his literary work.
He and Harry Hoyt both attended Yale University.