A South Carolina-born author, translator, artist, and teacher, he is best known for such short fiction works as Apples and Pears (1984) and The Cardiff Team (1986). As a translator, he focused on the works of Greek lyric poets such as Sappho and Archilochos.
He attended Duke University, Merton College-Oxford, and Harvard University. He published his first short story collection, Tatlin!, in 1974.
He illustrated the jackets of his books.
He was born in Anderson, South Carolina and grew up in Appalachia as the son of a railroad worker. He died of lung cancer in Lexington, Kentucky at the age of seventy-seven.
He attended Merton College, Oxford, where he studied under Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien.