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July 9, 2013

Book Notes - Ali Liebegott "Cha-Ching!"


In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Ali Liebegott's Cha-Ching! once again proves herself a master of fabulously flawed protagonists in this darkly compelling yet often hilarious novel.

San Francisco Magazine wrote of the book:

"Cha-Ching!, [Liebegott's] latest novel, is one of those books that cause you to look up, blinking, realizing that you’ve read 75 pages and your coffee is cold. It’s a rush of offtrack betting, impulsive road trips, liquor-fueled make-out sessions, and the sort of low-end jobs that are invisible in most fiction but everywhere in Liebegott’s work."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.

In her own words, here is Ali Liebegott's Book Notes music playlist for her novel, Cha-Ching!:

I usually can't listen to any music with lyrics while I write. For years, every time I would sit down to write I would only listen to Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 on repeat. It's in three movements. It was the perfect thing for me to write to. Now when I write, I listen to any random streaming classical station. Or sometimes I can write to French pop songs because I don't understand what anyone is saying. I probably listened to all of these songs at some point during the writing of Cha-Ching!, with the exception of Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" which I haven't heard since I was a child.

"The Gambler" – Kenny Rogers

I mean I'm the most literal person on earth, but come on! I remember being an over-dramatic child listening to "The Gambler" and singing it with kids in school. It's amazing now to think about children singing the lyrics to this song! "Know when to fold em'." No one in Cha-Ching! knows when to walk away. The really ironic thing about this song is that there are actually Kenny Rogers Gambler themed slot machines in casinos! Meta!!!!!

"Nausea" – Blatz

For years I listened to this song on a mix-tape someone made me. I had no idea that it was a cover on an X song until I heard the X version. And then to make things even weirder my ex-wife Anna Joy Springer was a singer in Blatz. We dated for a while before I connected her with this song. I remember saying, "No Way I love that song." "Nausea" by Blatz was like the punkest thing I knew. I loved how raw it was. Its connection to Cha-Ching! is that everyone is so worn out from gambling and addiction and dental appointments that there's some real nausea going around.

"Queenie" – Ethyl Meatplow

Oh the days when bands were called things like Ethyl Meatplow. This song was played a lot in the queer clubs. There used to be this thing in SF in the early 90s called 99 cent Queer Video night where you'd watch a movie and then have a dance party where I remember seeing the movie Superstar that told the story of Karen Carpenter's anorexia with Barbie Dolls. And then I was introduced to this song. I feel like Theo might've been rummaging around bars where this song was playing.

"Dragon Lady" – Geraldine Fibbers

This could be like a sister song to “Queenie” in my mind. The early 90s were such a time of bounty for bands that had awesome lead women vocals. The opening, “I got some satisfaction from lifting up your dress,” is so great. And I love how this song holds within it a thousand different moods. I feel like this is what Theo would play on repeat driving across the country. “We'll rob a 7-11 and hit the road!”

"None of Yr Business" – Salt N Pepa

Salt N Pepa was just pouring out of every car window in Brooklyn in the 90s. This whole playlist could be Salt N Pepa songs. I definitely thing Theo and Marisol would be drunk-driving to Atlantic City listening to some Salt N Pepa.

"M-A-R-T-I-N-A" – Phranc

The first time I learned of Phranc I was working for minimum wage at Tower Records and CDs had just come out and came in those long paper boxes. It was my job to make sure that they were all lined up correctly. I saw Phranc's album and my young queer heart leapt. Or was terrified. She posed with her crew cut and a milk moustache on astroterf. Later I listened to this cassette which my roommate owned. I remember this song blowing my mind. That Phranc was literally spelling out Martina Navratilova in a song. Its absurdity delighted me. There's so much absurdity in Cha-Ching! it makes this song the perfect choice.

"Lovers of Art" – WAYCROSS

Strangely this entire album became my writing replacement piece after I bored myself with Gorecki's Symphony No. 3. I was obsessed with the lyricism of each song. I could not stop listening to it despite its lyrics even when I wrote. WAYCROSS was made up of some San Francisco musicians and they did a lot of touring. I always think: why aren't they famous? This album is so genius. The bitterness in this particular song seems like it could resonate quite well with the characters of Cha-Ching!.

“Acid Tongue” – Jenny Lewis

Oh, this song! I could listen to it all day long. Jenny Lewis has one of those voices where it's impossible to not fall in love with her. “You know I am a liarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, and you don't know what I've done,” she croons and then as a listener you still want to propose marriage. I feel that's the basis of all decision making for Marisol and Theo in Cha-Ching!.

“It's a Rainbow (Blame Me) – Lisa Germano

This song slays me. How Lisa Germano's whispery-grovel truly inhabits all the regret and beauty of “an alcoholic's voice”. I feel this is a perfect selection for Cha-Ching! since Marisol and Theo are battling their addictions. There's such tenderness in this song, even while asking one person to blame the other.

Ali Liebegott and Cha-Ching! links:

the author's Wikipedia entry

ArtAnimal review
New York Journal of Books review
Publishers Weekly review
The Rumpus review
Verbicide review
ZYZZYVA review

HTMLGIANT interview with the author
KALW interview with the author
San Francisco Bay Guardian profile of the author
San Francisco Magazine profile of the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists

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