Among the missing

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 16:10 in Psychology & Sociology

Children go missing left and right in Sarah Braunstein’s haunting first novel. “She loved Crackerjack. She loved the home team with all her heart,” writes Braunstein, a fiction instructor at Harvard Extension School. “She was twelve; her name was Leonora; she would disappear.” In college, Braunstein overheard a story about a family that “perished at a train crossing — only one child survived,” she recalled. And the idea for “The Sweet Relief of Missing Children” was born. “To make sense of the tragedy, I began to fashion a story — my story was one of maternal fear, longing, and erotic abandon. As I cobbled it together, I became fascinated with runaways, with teenagers who flee to urban landscapes, hungry for newness,” said Braunstein, who was also inspired by Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio,” and by the writing of Flannery O’Connor, Joy Williams, Denis Johnson, and Gina Berriault. (“These writers find in the everyday horror...

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