The Serial

The Serial, by Cyra McFadden - published by Apostrophe Books

Are you into Living Together Relationships? Personal Growth? Human Life Styling? Is your desire Creative Control? Sadomasochism? Staying MellowAt All Costs? Then you will relate to Cyra McFadden’s The Serial.

Here, in 52 scintillating episodes, are the essential Kate and Harvey Holroyd, desperate fighters in the struggle to stay hip and loose in Marin County, California – a welter of lentil loaves, enzymes, whip fantasies, natural fibres, TM, Zen jogging and vibes both good and bad.

Set at the very epicentre of the self-obsessed 1970s, when everyone talks (without ever saying anything) in the psychobabble of faddish self-help manuals, it’s the most sophisticated, liberated, high energy, naturally organic and hilarious adult soap opera ever!


Once, ten years ago, Marin County had been something they could regard with a mixture of wistfulness and detachment through the haze of smoke at the Buena Vista on Sunday mornings while they drank aquavit and decided where to go for dim sum. Now they lived in Mill Valley. Not in the house they had in mind when they moved, though: the old canyon house with the view of Mount Tam, the leaded windows, the decks and the immutable Marin ambience – a sunny blend of affluence, redwoods, bohemianism and old golden oak furniture bought for a song on McAllister Street. The realtor had shown them a few houses that fit their lyrical descriptions all those years ago, but they had rapidly learned that they couldn’t afford to prop up the sagging foundations, fumigate for scorpions, bring the plumbing up to code and make the necessary structural repairs. In one house they’d seen, which their realtor described as “needing only an infusion of good taste,” Kate had put her foot through a hole in the kitchen floor.



Feature in the Pacific Sun about the re-release of Cyra McFadden's ebook The SerialFront page news in the Pacific Sun (24 January 2013)

Read an interview with Cyra McFadden by Morgen Bailey

‘One of the most delicious acts of cultural sabotage since Mark Twain’ – Newsweek

‘A put down that’s unputdownable. Don’t go out without it’ – The Sunday Times

‘A deadly satire’ – TIME

‘A superbly original book’ – The Financial Times

‘A comic classic’ – David Lodge

‘The funniest book ever written’ – Lisa Alther

‘A classic of great originality with enduring appeal’ – Jessica Mitford



This is a splendid satire of what happened when the counter culture began to trickle down the affluent middle classes in the 1970s.Kate and Harvey are a typical Marin County couple. They’ve dropped their previous square lifestyle (where Kate got off on baking cookies and starching the kitchen curtains) to get in touch with their real selves. This involves scream therapy, encounter groups, consciousness raising sessions, dope and granola. The book follows an uneventful year in their lives when they experiment with an open marriage, life on a commune, and a series of new and ultimately disastrous partners. It’s pretty tough on their daughter Joan (who joins the Moonies) and their pets, Donald Barthelme (an afgan, who doesn’t survive his mistress’ affair with a poodle-groomer)and Kat Vonnegut Jr (a cat). The book was originally written in short weekly episodes,like Bridget Jones Diary, and the style of humour is very like The Diary of a Nobody or the Mapp and Lucia books: lots of bathos and a series of mini-sagas that overlap. Despite everything Kate and Harvey are quite sympathetic (they both secretly hanker after their old lifestyle). I thought it was very funny and prescient. The truth is that nowadays we ALL live in Marin County!” 5★

This very funny book is set in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1970s, and exposes the zany attitudes of the Bay Area subculture for our amusement. Based on acute observation and almost entirely without “agenda”, the book sends up, for example, feminists and male chauvinists with magnificent impartiality. It may possibly be a little dated now and may contain one or two references which will be obscure to someone who has not spent some time in the Bay Area, but it is still one of the funniest books ever written.” 5★

My copy said “this is the funniest book ever written” and I do agree. I came across it quite by chance, but have now read it several times. It’s called The Serial as it was originally published in parts, but so was Dickens and Tintin, so it is in good company.
Cyra McFadden says that she was vilified by some of the types that she satirises, but in some ways, all of liberal western society would recognise bits of themselves in it, since we have all been affected by 60s and 70s Californian culture, like it or not, particularly in the use of certain language. Of course, language both reflects ways of thinking and behaviour, as well as driving it. Like, if you want to be a bit of a hippy (or anything else), then start talking like one, and you’ll be half way there! It’s also about growing older, and having a bit of a mid-life crisis, and having friends (or not…)
Some of the language and interchanges in this book have really stuck in my head, and come back to me over and over again.
Anyway, if you vaguely know what I am talking about, you’ll appreciate this book. Personally I find it utterly hilarious, and often re-read it either in whole or part. And yes, more adults’ books should have illustrations!” 5★

This book is great fun – with lovely humorous illustrations giving a real feel for the 70s My mum read it and commented on the fun of reading a book for adults with pictures! Its a very easy and funny read. McFadden says in the introduction that the book is really about language and this is true but underestates the fun of the plot It made me very much want to read more boks set in California of the 70s” 5★



Cyra McFadden, author of The Serial





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