Franklinstein by Susan Landers

Reviewed by Julie Feng

In Franklinstein, Susan Landers tells the story of Germantown, a Philadelphia neighborhood. The mixed-genre volume starts as an elegy for a closing church in Germantown. It is at once an ode to this place and a critical scouring of how the history of such places are made.

With multiple references to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the hybridity of Landers’ literary “monster” is centralized. She weaves poetry and prose into a collection that feels more like an ongoing project than a finished product. Landers says of history, “Always there will be coming more and more of it.” The insinuation is that her work, now part of the historical landscape of Germantown, will continue to develop. She draws heavily from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans—but the parts of the poems and pieces that are most salient are the parts about race and colonization. The title of the work itself is a one-word allusion to these three sources by Shelley, Franklin, and Stein—made obvious by Landers’ choice to start the book with quotes from these writers. Continue reading “Franklinstein by Susan Landers”