An indifferent student at best, he was schooled in the city and eventually graduated from Denison University with a B.A. in English. He got an M.A. in English from Ohio State and then a Ph.D. in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. Between 1963-1979 he taught in the English departments of various colleges and universities, got married (twice), had four children and one step-child, and gradually came to realize that he had said everything he was ever meant to say from the lectern---a realization that had doubtless come to his students well before.
His books include:
Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness
Remembering Song: Encounters with the New Orleans Jazz Tradition
Rediscovering America: John Muir in His Time and Ours
Spirit of Place: The Making of an American Literary Landscape
Of Chiles, Cacti, and Fighting Cocks: Notes on the American West, "two expanded editions"
A Border of Blue: Along the Gulf of Mexico from the Keys to the Yucatan
When the Boys Came Back: Baseball and 1946
1929: A Novel of the Jazz Age
In the Land of Temple Caves: Notes on Art and the Human Spirit
Redemption, A Novel
The Go-Between: A Novel of the Kennedy Years
Geronimo, His Own Story
The Viking Portable North American Indian Reader
Into the Heart of Life: Henry Miller at One Hundred
Forthcoming, November 2011:
Renegade: Henry Miller and the Making of 'Tropic of Cancer'(Yale University Press)
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1976.
Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 1981.
Regents' Writer-in-Residence, University of California, San Diego, 1983.
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Denison University, 1986