An American writer of Southern-themed fiction, he is best known for novels such as Mountains of Gilead and The Liberation of Lord Byron Jones.
He served in the United States Navy during the Korean War.
He won the Atlantic Monthly prize for his short story, "The Surest Thing in Show Business."
He married Lillian Pellitieri Chandler in 1975.
He and August Derleth both received Guggenheim fellowships.