Understanding Contemporary American Literature was planned as a series of guides or companions for students as well as good nonacademic readers. The word understanding in the series titles was deliberately chosen. Many willing readers lack an adequate understanding of how contemporary literature works: that is, what the author is attempting to express and the means by which it is conveyed. These volumes provide instruction in how to read certain contemporary writers—identifying and explicating their material, themes, use of language, point of view, structures, symbolism, and responses to experience.
Arthur Saltzman is a professor of English at Missouri Southern State University. His work has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, Modern Fiction Studies, Review of Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Literature, Baltimore Review, and numerous other journals. He is the author of ten books, including the essay collections Objects and Empathy, Nearer, and The Obligations of the Harp as well as the critical works The Novel in Balance and This Mad "Instead": Governing Metaphors in Contemporary American Fiction.