Brimstone and Treacle

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Eyre Methuen, Jan 1, 1978 - English drama - 36 pages

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About the author (1978)

ducated at Oxford, Dennis Potter's aesthetic resonates with the strains of postmodernism proliferated by Tom Stoppard and Thomas Pynchon: a combination of the bizarre and a compelling and somehow old-fashioned narrative. Operating simultaneously with this is a wryly cynical undertone that challenges the smug conventionality of the narrative. His novels, Ticket to Ride and Blackeyes, are vintage slick postmodern texts, evocative of Robert Coover's or Don DeLillo's with their tricks, twists, dazzling opacity, and masterful stylized tone. Potter's most notable distinction, though, is in bringing his work to the television screen---adapting his work to an industry that was (especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when he began writing) a highly unlikely forum for his avant-garde offerings. Yet Potter can be credited with creating a stunning canon of television plays that won acclaim despite the seemingly inauspicious mix of the medium and the drama; beyond this, he has energetically expanded the reach of popular culture (from within that culture), garnering admiration for the seriousness and incisiveness of such television plays as Pennies from Heaven (1978) and The Singing Detective (1986). The latter is an autobiographically based story about a hack writer's anxieties and the relationship between text and reality. Typical of Potter's rich filmic technique, it features a visual and musical panorama brimming with seamlessly intermixed stimuli ranging from 1930s song and dance numbers to psychoanalytic probing of childhood and sexuality.

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