Poet, professor, and literary critic. He published a 1976 poetry collection entitled The Heisenberg Variations and taught at Johns Hopkins University.
After graduating from the University of St. Thomas, he earned his English doctorate from Rice University.
He received the prestigious Christian Gauss Prize for a 1994 critical work entitled Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges, and the Analytical Detective Story.
He grew up in Houston, Texas and later settled in Baltimore, Maryland.
His first published work of literary criticism, Doubling and Incest/Repetition and Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner, dealt with the novels of southern author William Faulkner.