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The Serial (Picador Books)
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The Serial (Picador Books)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  165 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
The Serial is a soap opera set in Marin Country, California. It follows Kate and Harvey's Holroyd's attempts to keep up with their wacked-out neigbours' fashionable credentials - a year in which they have a trial separation and experiment unsuccessfully with alternative partners and lifestyles.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 1st 1980 by Picador (first published May 12th 1977)
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(showing 1-30)
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Suzanna Stinnett
The Serial was written in chapters and publishing in the local alternative newspaper, the Pacific Sun. I saw Cyra McFadden speak recently at a writer's club meeting, and she revealed the dynamics of writing satire about a place so easy to poke fun at. Marin County remains a stew of improbable people and scenarios, over thirty years after McFadden's serial.

Since I am in the thick of writing my own serial based in the SF Bay area, and I live in Marin County, I read the compiled book version with g
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a time capsule and timeless in that it is an important link in recent um, evolution, if you will. My parents had this book hanging around when I was young and because there were illustrations, I tried to read some of it. Particularly one chapter, entitled "Dealing with the Whole Child." I remember thinking at the time, this is just some grown up b.s.

Well, guess what. Thirty years later I have the same reaction only hilariously so! The author manages to capture sure an essence of th
This is one of the most deadly, spot-on satires of a specific American time and place ever written.

Specifically, this literary skewer pierces the heart of southern Marin County (just north of the Golden Gate Bridge) in the mid-late Seventies. This was the time of the 'human potential' movement, of Carl Rogers' humanist psychology, of EST, and of lifestyle experimentation born equally from the hangover of Haight Street hallucinogens, the post-Vietnam and post-Watergate withdrawal from the public
Not so much a novel, as a 319-page catalogue of the ways that affluent Marin County residents were annoying during the 1970s. That said, it's a very quick read - the characters may be paper thin, but the satire is sharp and funny. The book is sort of like a transitional fossil of the shift from hippies to yuppies, as the characters seek out all sorts of status goods while endlessly yammering about auras and process and, like, the wholeness of the integrated person, you feel me? It's fascinating ...more
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My sister and I used to read this every summer to the point where we had worn it out and had to buy a new copy. Now we each own our own copy and it is funnier every time I read it. A wonderful read again and again and I highly recommend everyone to have their own copy (or two in case you wear it out!).
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody with a taste for subtle satire
Recommended to Beth by: Marianne Dellasantina, who lived it
Absolutely devastating satire of the "California lifestyle."

TOO funny! McFadden's ear for jargon and cant is infallible.
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
"Right away, Kate spotted Carol and knew her Renaissance dress was all right--marginal, but all right. Carol was wearing Marie Antoinette milkmaid, but with her usual infallible chic, had embellished it with her trademark jewelry: an authentic squash-blossom necklace, three free-form rings bought from a creative artisan at the Mill Valley Art Festival on her right had, and her old high school charm bracelet updated with the addition of a tiny silver coke spoon."

I bought this book in London a few
Jul 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: california, satire
Originally appeared as a serial in a mill valley newspaper, this is a scathing satire of not just Marin and mill valley in the post-60s, 1970s weirdnesses of conscious raising groups, est, etc., but it rings true for today as well. Seems to me the author is making a statement about the transitory nature of things and ways of life, as trendy and materialistic people, who seek to embrace everything new and abandon the old...and they find that a compromise between the two, and making one's own way ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frightening to think that people in Marin once spoke in the manner McFadden satirizes in her collection of columns from the mid-1970s. McFadden captured the decade with her focus on a lost couple in search of a different life. Their search is shrouded in jargon and hollow phrases to which they give great meaning. I am glad I spent the 1970s in England and Montreal. "Finding oneself" was more satisfying and more lasting. McFadden isn't as skilled a writer as Maupin, or maybe she had less to work ...more
Nick Stewart
I LOVE soaps, practically anything 70s, and satires (which explains why I quote Mary Hartman daily). So, why didn't I LOVE The Serial? Well, for starters even I can't watch a week full of stories in one sitting. And since The Serial was initially published in weekly installments, reading several episodes at a time can be pretty tough going. Essentially, this is a one joke book. It's a pretty funny joke but it's spread across 52 episodes. And that's spreading itself too thin.
May 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you don't remember the 1970's, this book will just be stupid. However, if you do remember that unfortunate decade with all its pretensions, and especially if you remember it in the California Bay area, this book will keep you laughing from page one until the end.

I realize this is probably a niche market for the book, but for me, it was a fun read during a rainy weekend.
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book deals with life in the mid-1970s in Marin County, a suburban and affluent county just north of San Francisco. It's very satirical and laugh out loud funny at times. Some of the verbage from that area is hillarious. When a character gets an idea or has an epiphany of some sort, they say they "flashed onto something." It's a fun book.

Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ik registreerde een boek op!

I personally thought this book is hilarious. It has changed from a contemporary satire into a time document, but it's still funny.
Sari Lynn
Jan 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those pining for the Age of Aquarius, Marin-style
Recommended to Sari Lynn by: Tom Thompson
A tongue in cheek romp through Marin County in the early 1970's. Although I didn't get there until two decades later, I recognized many of the landmarks, and got a kick out of the characters and attitudes. It's a quick and fun read.

I would love to read this again. Read when it first came out, was a hilarious roasting of "hip society" of California of the time.
I'm currently reading Tales of the City, and finding great humor in reading about a time that I lived through, when I was a younger woman.
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana
I came across this book again recently. I read it years ago and it was fun. Will have to get a kindle version to see if it still holds up.

The funny thing is how little Marin County seems to have changed...
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-the-best
Shows what satire is and is hella entertaining to boot
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like a quick trip back to the 70's!
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I managed to find an original (I believe) spiral bound edition of this. It's somewhat funny, but doesn't really compare to Tales of The City.
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of fun. Things haven't changed much in California in the last 40 years.
May 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this book way back in the 1970's - lent the second copy to a Swedish friend in the 1980s and had it returned in August 2015 in Gothenburg
Sep 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scary. A Year in the life of Marin County in the 70's. But it only takes a month. Been there, done that.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
AT 85% through I decided to leave this book - I didn't enjoy it at all. I couldn't relate to any to the characters, and just gave up in the end.
Ernst G.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well documented view on the empty life in the sixties.
funny! Loved it.
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's fluff, but for as long as I owned a copy, I read and reread it with unflagging amusement.
Robert Mooney
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book skewered the plastic, narcissistic culture of Marin in the late '70s. Forty years later, incredibly, and sadly, the joke is on us.
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For cheese factor alone this is a great book. If you know anyone in Marin you will crack up on the satire.
Gregory Freeman
rated it liked it
Dec 17, 2016
Kathryn O'Brien
rated it liked it
May 13, 2016
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