He was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1994 & grew up there & in Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from Michigan State University & received an M. F. A. in 1970 from the University of California at Irvine. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts & American Academy of Arts & Letters Award for Literature. He was also given the 1994 Rea Award. In 2001 he was awarded the PEN/Malamud prize.