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.
During his younger years, he befriended several renowned Beat Generation figures, including Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady. He published his famous debut novel, Go, in the early 1950s.
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.