Page Turners is part of my "Literary Luminary" series, featuring insights on writing and publishing straight from the folks who do it for a living. Page Turner Marie Sweetman is an acquisitions editor at Wayne State University Press in Detroit, MI. She acquires scholarly work in the areas of fairy-tale studies and film and media studies. On Twitter, she is @marie_sweetman.
What are you reading right now?
Who are your top 5 authors?
In contemporary fiction: Jesmyn Ward, Zadie Smith, Celeste Ng. In not-so contemporary-but-ever-relevant fiction: George Eliot and L.M. Montgomery.
What gets you excited about a book you're reading?
SO MUCH. Gorgeous, quirky, or ambitious sentences. Powerful voice and character. An immense and vivid world. Surprising structure/form.
And what turns you off?
Second-hand embarrassment for the author because of poor writing, including a general lack of competency as well as unconscious racism, sexism, classism. I can't count the number of times I've stopped reading something because of the perspective from which it describes a woman's body...
Is there one book in particular that changed your life?
Books have nourished, inspired, and challenged me my whole life. Rather than one single book that turned my life in a new direction, it's the gradual experience of book upon book, perspective upon perspective, that leads to change. To pick a silly one, Moby Dick by Herman Melville has had a lasting effect as a recurring metaphor in my life ever since I read it as a hungry, directionless, friendless, ignorant 19-year-old. Always chasing that whale, you know.
What made you want to work in the book world?
At first, what made me want to work in the book world was the romantic depiction of writers and editors I encountered all the time in fiction. Then, it was the far more prosaic but practical experiences of a book publishing workshop in undergrad, an editorial job in Hong Kong, a dream EA-ship at the literary journal Ploughshares, and a master's degree in publishing. Every step I took further into the so-called book world made me feel happy and more fulfilled. Now, I'm in love with acquisitions editorial and can't imagine doing anything else. It's a joy to bring a book to physical and/or digital life. I even enjoy financials and content management systems.
Which book do you wish you could read again for the first time?
What a gift this would be! Middlemarch by George Eliot.
Are you or someone you know a book publishing professional who would like to be featured in this series?
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