When "The Mystical Creatures" Solved Problems

When Mystical Creatures Attack! - Kathleen Founds

Title: When Mystical Creatures Attack

Author: Kathleen Founds

Publishers: University of Iowa Press

Publication Date: Oct 1st 2014

Page Numbers: 206 pages



In When Mystical Creatures Attack!, Ms. Freedman’s high school English class writes essays in which mystical creatures resolve the greatest sociopolitical problems of our time. Students include Janice Gibbs, “a feral child with excessive eyeliner and an anti-authoritarian complex that would be interesting were it not so ill-informed,” and Cody Splunk, an aspiring writer working on a time machine. Following a nervous breakdown, Ms. Freedman corresponds with Janice and Cody from an insane asylum run on the capitalist model of cognitive-behavioral therapy, where inmates practice water aerobics to rebuild their Psychiatric Credit Scores.

The lives of Janice, Cody, and Ms. Freedman are revealed through in-class essays, letters, therapeutic journal exercises, an advice column, a reality show television transcript, a diary, and a Methodist women’s fundraising cookbook. (Recipes include “Dark Night of the Soul Food,” “Render Unto Caesar Salad,” and “Valley of the Shadow of Death by Chocolate Cake.”) In “Virtue of the Month,” the ghost of Ms. Freedman’s mother argues that suicide is not a choice. In “The Un-Game,” Janice’s chain-smoking nursing home charge composes a dirty limerick. In “The Hall of Old-Testament Miracles,” wax figures of Bible characters come to life, hungry for Cody’s flesh.

Set against a South Texas landscape where cicadas hum and the air smells of taco stands and jasmine flowers, these stories range from laugh-out-loud funny to achingly poignant. This surreal, exuberant collection mines the dark recesses of the soul while illuminating the human heart.


What I Thought

This kind of genre is a new for me. What does it called...a dark humor? The story is about Laura Freedman, an English teacher, who suddenly absent from her class becaused she diagnosed of a mentally illness. Most of her students didn't care about it, but not Janice Gibbs. With an unique story-telling ways, Kathleen Founds told the relationships between the characters. 

Why I called this unique? Because we won't found an ordinary chapters like in other novels, but the story built by letters, emails, journals, short stories (mostly by Cody Splunk), essays and some therapy journals. And I love the humor (especially the "racist" Danny Ramirez!). The only thing from this novel is sometimes I can't recognized the POV. Some chapters didn't gave any clue about who's mind that I'm reading, which made me lost in track. 

This book not supposed to end like that. But I have no idea how it should end, either.This is kind of book with unpredictable ending, which in my experience, I'm starting to enjoyed it a lot when it suddenly end :D


Opening Line

1. What is your favorite mystical creature? _____________________

2. What is the greatest sociopolitical problem of our time? ______ ________________________________________________________________


Journaling Prompt: Write a one-page story in which your favorite mystical creature resolved the greatest sociopolitical problem of our time.