An American writer of fiction and non-fiction, he is particularly known for his best-selling 1975 novel, Beyond the Bedroom Wall, which was nominated for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. His other works include Made Fresh: Essays on Literature and Culture and a 2008 memoir entitled A Step from Death.
He worked as both a copywriter and a voice-over artist for a CBS affiliate in Illinois.
He was named North Dakota's Poet Laureate in 1995.
He grew up in Carrington, North Dakota and later attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He married Carole Woiwode.
His novel, What I'm Going to Do, I Think, won the William Faulkner Foundation Award.