An Alabama-born author, he is best known for his 1961 novel, The Moviegoer, which won the National Book Award. Much of his work deals with the transformation of the old South through technology and industry.
While recovering from a bout of tuberculosis, he discovered the works of Jean Paul Sartre and other European existentialist writers and was inspired to become an author, himself. He published his debut work, The Moviegoer, in 1961.
His most famous novel, The Moviegoer, deals with the theme of alienation by focusing on a jaded Wall Street man who seeks meaning in a world of movie images.
He was orphaned in his childhood after his father committed suicide and his mother died in an automobile accident. During his later childhood years, he was raised by his father's cousin, a lawyer.
He and fellow author, Julia Glass, were both recipients of the National Book Award for Fiction.