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POUGHKEEPSIE by Debra Anastasia


by Debra Anastasia, developed by Omnific Publishing

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 2014
Publisher: Omnific Publishing

An indie epic of sex, crime and romance is bolstered—though not exactly improved—by photos, videos, quizzes and a recipe.

Published in 2011, Poughkeepsie garnered a cult following among readers who were seduced by Anastasia’s tale of three foster brothers and the women who love them. This app can be read as a kind of extended thank-you note to those readers: Anastasia offers extra chapters, brief commentaries on particular sentences when clicked (“This is one of my favorite lines”) and a feature on people who’ve had tattoos done of the novel’s logo, a merger of a dagger, cross and treble clef. Whatever is prompting people to transform this tale into body art, it’s not the high-quality prose and plot. The novel turns on three romances, each lacquered in hokum: Livia, a college student, falls for Blake, a homeless man who plays a cardboard piano and counts the smiles she gives him on the train platform in the titular New York city; Livia’s bad-girl sister, Kyle, falls for Cole, a priest-in-training; and Beckett, a coldblooded criminal, falls for Eve, a kind of sexpot mercenary. Credit Anastasia for cannily merging street lit, Fifty Shades–style erotic romance and a soft-focus sentiment fit for a Thomas Kinkade painting. But it’s hard not to feel whipsawed by the contrived plot turns Anastasia invents to keep these three affairs moving, and the app’s additions are largely ephemeral. Numerous chapters include links to light adult contemporary tunes; there’s an occasional sound effect (click “car crash” to hear the sound of a car crash during a scene of a car crash); and illustrations mostly comprise lots of stock images of fit, marginally clothed bodies.

A clunky if shrewdly engineered tale with, for the most part, equally clunky added bells and whistles.