University of Wisconsin Press colophon



University of Wisconsin Madison crest that links to main university site

Association of University Presses member logo that links to main AUPresses site



Catalog Archive / Spring 2023

Imagine Your Life Like This

“Well-written, varied, and intriguing, these stories are original and will stay with me for a long time.”
—Kelly Fordon, author of I Have the Answer

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.


Sarah Layden. Photo credit, Eric Learned. Sarah Layden, assistant professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is the author of Trip Through Your Wires, a novel, and The Story I Tell Myself About Myself, winner of the Sonder Press Chapbook Competition. She is co-author with Bryan Furuness of The Invisible Art of Literary Editing.




“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



Download Cover: color | b/w

Download Author Photo: color | b/w

Request Review Copy

Request Exam Copy


Table of Contents


Imagine Your Life Like This
I’m Not Who You Think I Am
Miller Miller
Locations without Maps
Where Light Can’t Reach
In Search Of
White Hands
Paternity Test
Nothing and Nobody


Of Related Interest

Hoaxes and Other Stories: cover showing the title text written in a randsom letter fashion, with different fonts and backgrounds for each letter of the word 'Hoaxes'.

Hoaxes and Other Stories
Brian DiNuzzo

Add This to the List of Things That You Are: Cover showing five landscapes, each tinted a different color (pink, blue, green, yellow, and red, in decending order) with a person standing in each one. The landscapes are separated by white lines, on top of which the title text is written.

Add This to the List of Things That You Are
Chris Fink

Book Title

Larger images

April 2023
LC: 2022028895 PS
168 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

Book icon
Paper $18.95
ISBN 9780299342548
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
Review Cart