Ali Liebegott's Cha-Ching! is the latest publication from the City Lights/Sister Spit series imprint at City Lights Books. Liebegott, who captured our hearts and imaginations with her award-winning The Beautifully Worthless and The IHOP Papers and frequent Sister Spit performer, takes us back to Brooklyn, circa Yonkers, in the '90s in her new publication.
Liebegott's protagonist, Theo, is a youngish butch who leaves San Francisco with her newly rescued pitbull, Cary Grant, to start life anew in New York City. While she escapes the west coast, she cannot escape the addictions that follow her east. Drugs, alcohol, and gambling plague our dispirited protagonist—indeed, it is only Cary Grant, with her brindled, scar-lined face, who keeps Theo in check. Theo accidentally adopts the damaged pit the day she is about to embark on her roadtrip east; it is the trip that creates their unbreakable bond, from Theo feeding Cary Grant pieces of hot dog to snipping off her stitches. The love is mutual. The thought of Cary Grant is Theo's ethical compass over her well-being, the obligation who distracts her from drinking and gambling...well, at least some of the time.
Cha-Ching! is a quick, sober read. The setting of 1990s, pre-gentrified, Brooklyn for the most part remains a vague environs; the narrative focus is placed on the description of the translation of Theo's cognition to her actions—ie, the readers see the causal chain between her thoughts and her actions. At the same time, Yonkers and Atlantic City come alive in all their grotesque normalcy of the America of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness via cheap booze and one dollar lotto tickets.
Liebegott will celebrate the publication of Cha-Ching! and the return of The Beautifully Worthless tomorrow, Wednesday, March 27th, 7pm at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. You can listen to an interview with her literary life and, in particular, about Cha-Ching! HERE. You can read the first chapter of this book at the City Lights's website HERE.