An American author, teacher and poet of the Beat generation, he is best known for novels such as Go (1952) and The Horn (1958). The latter work is widely considered the most important piece of beatnik jazz fiction.
He taught at the University of Arkansas and lectured at Brown and Yale.
His family lived in Holyoke, Massachusetts at the time of his birth. He died of cancer in Connecticut.
He and fellow Beat author, Jack Kerouac, were close friends.