Read The Serial by Cyra McFadden Online


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....

Title : The Serial
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781853753831
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 269 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Serial Reviews

  • Suzanna Stinnett
    2019-03-03 22:36

    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 great interest. It's almost scary how little has changed. As an author, I could see the difficulty McFadden encountered in keeping the stories going. When she spoke at Book Passage she said it was hard for her to look at the writing now herself, but that's often the author's experience. She invented the characters and set them loose in the ridiculous landscape of the privileged in the '70s. It's just too repetitive after a few chapters, all the references, the silly language, and the predictable behaviors. What she was doing, however, was chronicling an era and a locale, and she did it with painful precision.The Serial stands up better if chapters are not read one after the other. Just as they were published, weekly in the Pacific Sun, readers need a rest between the toxic jabs at the poor characters wallowing in the human potential movement and suffering as they simultaneously reach for and avoid the real meaning of personal accountability.If you're curious about what happened in Northern California in the late 70s, you can get a very clear look at it in Cyra McFadden's book, The Serial. Suzanna Stinnett

  • Shannon
    2019-03-25 05:51

    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 the time period without sounding it dated today, meticulously crafting great satire and making the reader care about some pretty narcissist a-holes along the way. I don't think it's a book that confines itself to the Marin county it takes place in- we've known people like the ones in the book, and we still know people like those in the book (switch the words "swapping" with "polyamorous") but I did appreciate the name dropping of old establishments. Because of the straight dryness, I had to put the book down and wonder if the author was serious many times as I read. Luckily, there were signs here and there that let me know that she was in on the joke, or was at least chronicling events that she saw while laughing hysterically inside. And luckily for me, I didn't have to hold my laughs back as I read.I might have to follow in my parents steps with this book- no, not with any cult joining or consciousness raising. I remember that they bought copies and gave them to all of their friends, and I'm this close to doing the same. Now if only there was a reprint of the spiral bound version...

  • Paul
    2019-03-07 22:49

    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 sphere, and Castro Street coming-out, coming into oneself, and just plain coming.Marriage, the body, the self, sexuality, the environment: all were works in progress, and everything was up for discussion and experimentation except the need for discussion and experimentation. McFadden catches all of it, with a droll affection that renders the satire all the more effective. It's very nearly ethnography, and it's very funny.

  • Larissa
    2019-03-05 02:31

    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 to see which aspects of this time and place have entered the mainstream (sushi, biking, therapy speak) and which have become obsolete (fern bars, jumpsuits, the assumption that a man can't work a laundry machine). I'd be curious to learn if something similar exists for Berkeley - that seems like an equally ripe target for this kind of humor.

  • Lauren
    2019-03-20 00:36

    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!).

  • Beth
    2019-03-22 00:52

    Absolutely devastating satire of the "California lifestyle."TOO funny! McFadden's ear for jargon and cant is infallible.

  • Giuliana
    2019-03-07 04:26

    "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 years ago because it was cheap and had a fun cover. Those were the days of my own private Enlightenment, during which every book, movie, and encounter revealed clear messages about the meaning of life. Needless to say, I loved The Serial from the first page and went on loving it for years.The Serial is a satire of a rich San Francisco community during the 1970s. Most of all, is a satire about language, and how language affects our thinking. It is very sarcastic, which I usually abhor, but it manages to have just enough compassion in the end for me to enjoy the story.I don't remember what lesson I gained from this book (I presently live in my own private Middle Ages), but, on a recent quick-read, I thought it was still pretty hilarious. You might want to read it on the plane.

  • Maggie
    2019-03-23 01:50

    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 in life, works best.

  • Anne
    2019-03-16 02:38

    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 with. The hedonism of the search palls.

  • Nick Stewart
    2019-03-03 03:27

    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.

  • Andie
    2019-03-01 04:50

    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.

  • Luciano
    2019-03-12 02:42

    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.

  • Moem
    2019-03-21 23:22

    Ik registreerde een boek op! personally thought this book is hilarious. It has changed from a contemporary satire into a time document, but it's still funny.

  • Sari Lynn
    2019-02-25 22:37

    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.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-09 05:23

    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.

  • Mike
    2019-03-08 21:36

    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...

  • Richard
    2019-03-23 21:37

    Shows what satire is and is hella entertaining to boot

  • Sara
    2019-03-15 05:50

    Like a quick trip back to the 70's!

  • Milo
    2019-03-27 04:36

    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.

  • Nora
    2019-03-04 01:39

    Lots of fun. Things haven't changed much in California in the last 40 years.

  • Mo
    2019-03-03 03:35

    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

  • Liz
    2019-03-14 05:47

    Scary. A Year in the life of Marin County in the 70's. But it only takes a month. Been there, done that.

  • JJ
    2019-03-01 00:24

    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.
    2019-03-03 23:50

    A well documented view on the empty life in the sixties.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-24 00:23

    funny! Loved it.

  • Kate
    2019-03-10 00:35

    It's fluff, but for as long as I owned a copy, I read and reread it with unflagging amusement.

  • Robert Mooney
    2019-03-07 05:29

    This book skewered the plastic, narcissistic culture of Marin in the late '70s. Forty years later, incredibly, and sadly, the joke is on us.

  • Linda
    2019-03-02 00:40

    For cheese factor alone this is a great book. If you know anyone in Marin you will crack up on the satire.