A New York Times Notable Book!
"Kathleen Founds is a luminous, bright, subversive and very funny writer. What I especially love about her work is the sense that her strange and wonderful talent is always working in the service of a deeply humane and hopeful vision of the world."
~ George Saunders
"This dark, rich little novel in stories shows Founds as a talented moralist of nearly Russian ferocity."
~ The New York Times
The 25 linked stories in this debut collection beautifully sketch the lives of residents of a small South Texas town. Chief among them is Laura Freedman, a 23-year-old high school English teacher struggling with mental illness and her failure to “heal and transform” her students, and her student Janice Gibbs, “a feral child with... an antiauthoritarian complex” who becomes Laura’s correspondent and confidante. . . Founds’s stories are punctuated with marvelous moments of humor and pathos, and no matter the narrative form they take, they uniformly reveal vividly realized characters with complex inner lives.
~Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
"With the antic fearlessness of Mark Leyner and the compassion and inventiveness of Karen Russell, Kathleen Founds takes mad risks in tone and form and wins. These hilarious, heartbreaking stories build a new architecture between the novel and the postmodern parable, revising our notions of what the short story is and might be."
~ Wells Tower
"I first encountered these mystical animals when Kathleen Founds was in my writing class many years ago. I approached them with my pencil gripped firmly in hand, ready to analyze and criticize. The next things I knew, I was doodling in the margins of her story, actually drawing hearts and flowers all over it. I couldn't stop myself! I still don't know what happened; it was a very mystical and magical attack! All I can say is read this book and let it happen to you!"
~ Mary Gaitskill
"Kathleen Founds is a comic genius, and few comic writers can deliver such wisdom and pathos along with the laughs. Her characters are unforgettable, in part because they are so original, and in part because they so poignantly resemble ourselves. Hers is a voice that will resonate long after you've stopped laughing."
~ Mary Caponegro
"When Mystical Creatures Attack! is a collection of stories that reads like a dazzling, intricate, and electric novel. Kathleen Founds shows a true empathy towards these memorable characters, and I felt incredibly attached to them. Founds is a wonderful new talent, and her prose and voice are incredibly charming, witty, and stirringly graceful."
~ Tom Kealey, Thieves I've Known
In the first story of this unusual collection, Laura Freedman asks her high school English class to write about their favorite mystical creatures solving the greatest sociopolitical problems of our time. The resulting vignettes—in which a sphinx solves loneliness, a giant squid stops a pregnancy, and a phoenix rescues Ms. Freedman herself from Texas—introduce a young teacher, on her way to a crushing breakdown and a stay in an insane asylum, and two of her students, the disaffected Janice Gibbs and the irrepressible Cody Splunk . . . Each story adds a layer of feeling, understanding and history to the characters as they slide back and forth through time and relationships. They handle, gracefully, the whiplash switch between depression and hilarity, between the ghost of a suicidal mother and a love-struck boy promising to invent a time machine . . . A surreal, dark and very funny collection that has the emotional punch of a novel.
Copyright © 2019 Kathleen Founds
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