Sarah Layden: Imagine Your Life Like This

Sarah Layden-1

Sarah Layden: Imagine Your Life Like This

Sarah Layden in conversation with Barbara Shoup regarding her new book, Imagine Your Life Like This, on Friday, April 14, at 5pm.

Register here with Eventbrite.

This talk is suitable for all ages. Signed copies of the book will be available to purchase at the talk.

Sarah Layden is the author of Imagine Your Life Like This (University of Wisconsin Press, 2023), The Story I Tell Myself About Myself, winner of the 2017 Sonder Press Chapbook Competition, and Trip Through Your Wires (Engine Books, 2015), a novel. The Invisible Art of Literary Editing, a textbook coauthored with Bryan Furuness, will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2023. Her short fiction can be found in Boston Review, Stone Canoe, Blackbird, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the anthologies Best Microfiction 2020, Welcome to the Neighborhood, Sudden Flash Youth, and elsewhere. Her recent nonfiction work has appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Poets & Writers, Salon, River Teeth, The Millions, The Humanist, and Indianapolis Monthly.

She earned a B.S. in journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and an MFA in fiction writing from Purdue University. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Barbara Shoup is the author of eight novels for adults and young adults, most recently An American Tune, and Looking for Jack Kerouac, and a memoir, A Commotion in Your Heart. She is the the co-author of Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process and Story Matters. Her short fiction, poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in numerous small magazines, as well as in The Writer and The New York Times travel section. Shoup is the recipient of numerous grants from the Indiana Art Commission, two creative renewal grants from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the 2006 PEN Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and the 2012 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Regional Indiana Author Award. Her young adult novels, Wish You Were Here and Stranded in Harmony were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. Vermeer’s Daughter was a School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Young Adults. Barbara Shoup graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in secondary education. She taught creative writing to high school students for more than twenty years. Currently, she is the Writer-in-Residence at the Indiana Writers Center and a creative writing faculty member of Art Workshop International in Assisi.

We all long for something; what if we get it?

The characters who inhabit Sarah Layden’s short story collection are on the verge of change—if only they could see themselves and their situations with greater clarity. Caught in the midst of crises, they stumble toward the future without fully understanding their past. Layden’s deft, spare prose sketches worlds and lives with telling details, juggling disparate strands of identity and often revealing the deeper truths in unexpected moments of epiphany.

A bride-to-be puts on her detective hat when her groom goes missing. A woman returns to college after escaping an abusive marriage, only to discover her professor is a fraud. Reunited at a high school reunion, two former classmates completely misinterpret a critical incident from a decade prior. These and other characters find themselves lonely and in limbo, their self-identity as blurry as the old photographs they cling to with stubborn intensity.

Set mostly in the Midwest and upstate New York, Imagine Your Life Like This captures everyday Americans in all their discontent, misunderstandings, and dogged determination for a better world.


“Layden’s vividly-drawn characters struggle to define themselves in relation to who they used to be, who they want to be, and who others imagine them to be. In the midst of their various crises, they behave badly, make mistakes, and want what they can’t have, and yet in spite of—or maybe because of—their fallibility, they remain sympathetic and lovable. Imagine Your Life Like This is a crisp, compassionate, and moving examination of the difficulty of seeing ourselves clearly and the pain of being seen by others in ways we can’t control.” —Ashley Wurzbacher, author of Happy Like This

“Sarah Layden writes about loneliness and disconnection with authority and beauty. Her characters are often flawed people in the midst of difficult circumstances whose stories unravel in surprising ways. She is a writer to watch.” —Marian Crotty, author of What Counts as Love

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Apr 14 2023


5:00 pm


Indy Reads
1066 Virginia Avenue, Indianapolis, IN, 46203