This is a how-to-write book. Despite the clever disguise as a geeky academic textbook complete with bibliography and footnotes -- and the disguise is so thorough that it actually is a geeky academic textbook complete with bibliography and footnotes.
Anyway, it's about how writers actually do get readers to view the characters and circumstances the way they want them to. How we maintain interest in the story. Whether some demands about novels really don't make sense as shown by the way that many novel rely on the "faults" to work. He touches on techniques from commentary from omniscient narrators to judicious adjectives and discusses how techniques -- even the modern, popular ones -- have their limitations as well as their uses.
He even makes sense when talking about how writers write. Most literary critics who aren't fiction writers on the side talk about how writers write and reveal that they will never, ever, ever manage to write fiction.
In his afterword (to the second edition) he says he once had a lively discussion with a class of fourth graders on the rhetoric of fiction. Which is to say that he asked, "How do you tell the good guys from the bad guys?" and they were off. This treats the matter in somewhat more complex manner -- but it touches on that, too.