Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index



to e-mail us:

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK


the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Sinking of the
Odradek Stadium

Harry Mathews

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium

Title: The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium
Author: Harry Mathews
Genre: Novel
Written: 1972
Length: 190 pages
Availability: The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium - US
The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium - UK
The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium - Canada
Le naufrage du stade Odradek - France
  • First published 1971-2 in The Paris Review, issues 51-54.
  • In The Way Home Mathews writes that: "The Sinking survived twenty-five rejections" before finally finding a publisher. Even then it was first published (by Harper & Row, in 1975) not by itself but in a volume together with Mathews' two previous novels, The Conversions and Tlooth
  • Translated into French by Georges Perec (Le Naufrage du Stade Odradek, 1981)

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B : imaginative, entertaining, pleasantly absurd

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Rev. of Books . 7/8/1975 Thomas R. Edwards
The NY Times Book Rev. A 18/5/1975 Edmund White

  From the Reviews:
  • "The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium seems to me a comic masterpiece, as funny as Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, as intricate as Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire. (...) As Mathews' art has matured he has moved away from pearls of exotic narration strung on a slender thread of continuity. In The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium, he has created a seamless fabric, as tense, light, and strong as stretched silk." - Edmund White, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium is told almost entirely in the form of letters between Zachary McCaltex and his new bride, Tro-tsi Twang Panattapam McCaltex. Zachary is in Miami, Twang in Italy. Their correspondence moves through a variety of stages. At its core is their changing relationship (long distance makes it complicated) and the search for a treasure in Florida.
       Mathews mixes politics, literature, music, and the personal in the unusual give and take between the couple. There is also a lot of literary play. From Twang's written English (initially very poor, prone to amusing slips) to any number of textual tricks Mathews displays his craftiness.
       Random (and not necessarily representative) samples: Twang wonders about a title she's heard: "What is that 'Waste land' ? It's perhaps a nick name of Arizona ?" Or the plaint: "The events have left me feeling like a fragment by H.D."
       There's also an index to the novel (we approve heartily !), as cleverly done as the rest of the novel for anyone who cares to follow it. (In fact, it helps in the understanding of some of the allusions in the text that might otherwise be missed.)
       The story twists, skips and jumps in familiar Mathews style. Pleasantly absurd, intriguingly clever, with its short epistolary chapters it is an enjoyable though at times challenging read.

- Return to top of the page -


The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium: Harry Mathews: OuLiPo: Other Books by Harry Mathews under Review Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Oulipo books under review
  • See Index of Contemporary American fiction

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       American author Harry Mathews was born in 1930. He graduated from Harvard. In 1952 he moved to Paris, becoming a member of the OuLiPo in the early 1970s.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2000-2010 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links