The Novel in the Balance investigates the issue of "balance" as a thematic and stylistic feature of contemporary American fiction. In this refreshingly jargon-free examination of exemplary modern and postmodern novels, Arthur Saltzman identifies the strategies employed to produce a state of equilibrium between opposing forces and opposing viewpoints. Whereas previous fiction embraced formal and philosophical resolution, Saltzman contends that contemporary fiction playfully invites disjunction and rupture into its portrayal of reality.
Inspired by its subject, the book's structure mirrors the balance found throughout contemporary works of fiction. In his six central chapters, Saltzman juxtaposes compatible novels and then interprets them against, or in terms of, one another to reveal paradox as the common philosophical premise and formal principle uniting contemporary fiction.
Arthur M. Saltzman is professor of English at Missouri Southern State College, where he was named Outstanding Teacher in 1992. Saltzman is author of three previous books, Designs of Darkness in Contemporary American Fiction, Understanding Raymond Carver, and The Fiction of William Gass: The Consolation of Language.
"[Saltzman] is one of American fiction's great discoverers, elucidators, and synthesizers, a scholar in place in the line of Alfred Kazin, Ihab Hassan, and Robert Scholes."—Jerome Klinkowitz, author of Structuring the Void: The Struggle for Subject in Contemporary American Fiction.
"Full of interesting and original interpretations of contemporary fiction.... [Saltzman] brings a thoroughly educated reading to bear in his analysis of each of the texts.... As a result of the lucid density of the book, it will be useful to interested readers outside the field of contemporary ficiton."—Susan Strehle, author of Fiction in the Quantum Universe.