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THE SERIAL Spiral-bound


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 111 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (May 12, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394733614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394733616
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
What fun to read it again.
M. Houdek
It still makes me laugh to the point of tears and also gives me pause when something hits too close to home.
Elisabeth Forrest
I bought this book for ninety nine cents, used.
sonora

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 19, 2000
Format: Spiral-bound
The Serial is a soap opera set in Marin County, California. Just north of the Golden Gate bridge it is the affluent epicenter of the self-obsessed. It's the tail end of the decade and the free spirit ideals of the hippy generation have become commodified and trend obsessed: natural fibres and organic produce are de rigueur, radical chic is bought in designer boutiques and everyone talks (without ever really communicating) in the psycho-babble of faddish self-help manuals. Transcendental meditation, personal growth, rebirthing, zen jogging and pet psychiatry are the order of the day. Though everyone in the hip Marin enclave thinks they're liberated and really together, they've simply become an hilarious parody of the straight world they're trying so hard to leave behind. The soap follows Kate and Harvey Holroyd's attempts to keep up with their wacked-out neighbours' fashionable credentials. A year in which they have a trial separation and experiment unsuccessfully with alternative partners and lifestyles.
The book has 52 short (2 page) chapters that my significant other and I found just right to read to each other at bedtime.
The book was often villified by fellow Marinites. Marin County had all of the wacky new age stuff, open marriages, etc., long before the rest of the country did, and this book follows a couple locked deep in the heart of it. Maybe it's not so surprising now, but it was certainly a shocker then. Otherwise, it's a funny blast from the past which means even more to me as I have lived there.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Satia Renee VINE VOICE on January 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this novel as an adolescent when it first came out and was prepared to find it dated because I remembered, vaguely, that it was about open relationships and all sorts of hippie stuff that was so prevelant at the time.

How a novel that is so ensconced in a time and place can still sound relevant is remarkable. If you were to change some of the details--hairstyles, labels, even the television programs--you could transplant these characters into the present without compromising the characters or their experiences.

I reread it and found myself laughing and cringing. If everything old is new again then this book definitely proves the point. For better or worse, maybe we have not come as far as we had thought.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Linda Sharps on January 10, 2002
Format: Spiral-bound
This book is hilarious. I've read it to tatters because it's the sort of thing you can pick up, open at random, and spend a pleasant time laughing at the characters who are "slightly off balance yin-and-yangwise but definitely benign". Naturally organic satire at its finest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Walter J. Jamieson Jr. on December 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
We own the first edition, the large format spiral-bound one. I have no idea why I was smart enough to buy it when it came out, but we have loved it ever since. It is spot-on about the time and place, spot-on about the language, the attitudes, every nuance, in fact. The drawings are satirical and very close to beautiful at the same time, and there's a real tension between the humor and the precision of them.

McFadden is a remarkably funny and unusually clever writer, not only here but in her wonderful memoir, "Rain or Shine", as well. I wish her newspaper columns would be collected into a book; I bet that would make a wonderful read too.

Clearly, it is no longer practical to obtain a first edition, and the regular size paperback couldn't have quite the same impact, but I'm sure it would still be extrememly entertaining to anyone who lived through the 70s in Marin County, knew someone who did, wished they had or were glad they hadn't.

Sorry to say, the movie, with its very fine-but-not-quite-perfectly-cast stars, didn't quite make it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed it. Overhated by some and overrated by others, but a fine read in spite of that. Can we spoof the 70s California lifestyle more than it spoofs itself? No easy task, but McFadden pulls it off quite well. And her wit and wordplay are sharp enough to draw blood. The only negative is that the characters don't grow and the plot is just a one-trick pony trotted out again and again. Yes, that IS part of the point! Part of the satire. I get it. But still, that repetitiveness did make me glad to spread it out over several sittings. I like the book, and I'm happy I have her Pulitzer-nominated memoir on my shelf, unread, waiting for me. It's a test of my willpower.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Houdek on February 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I remember reading this when it first came out years ago and loving it. Having lived in San Francisco, I was very familiar with Marin County and Cyra McFadden did a great job of sharing it's many idiosyncrasies with the rest of the world and she did it was great good humor and tongue in cheek. What fun to read it again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By paganesque on January 22, 2011
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
Having grown up in SoCal in the 70s (although in the striving lower middle class), this novel hit home in more ways than I should admit. The requisite collective households; the nude sunbathing and massage; the b.s. criticism-and-self-criticism sessions. (My women's reading groups, however, were revelatory.)

I remember seeing the paperback in the Safeway checkout line in the 70s and wanting to read it. Recently felt sentimental and so ordered it on Amazon (the spiral edition with Tom Cervanak's good-bad illustrations) and now remember what I don't miss! Hysterical social satire.

Thank you Cyra McFadden for this priceless time capsule. Although now I may passive-aggressively blame you for my inability to confront stressful situations without thinking, "Man, what kind of power trip is this?"
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