An American author and photographer whose work focused on the Great Plains region, he is remembered for his National Book Award-winning novel, The Field of Vision, as well as for his O. Henry Award-winning short story, Victrola. His other works include The Huge Season, Love Among the Cannibals, and A Cloak of Light.
He spent summers on his uncle's Nebraska farm, a location that inspired many of his early photographs.
He was granted three Guggenheim Fellowships.
His mother died shortly after his birth, and he spent his early years in the care of a nanny. He married Josephine Wright.
He and Janet Kauffman were both awarded National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.