Often compared to Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the lesser-known “beat-generation” writer, Fielding Dawson brings us the third novel in his Penny Lane series, not-so-cleverly titled Three Penny Lane. One of the more popular passages from Three Penny Lane epitomizes Dawson’s style of dialogue:
“What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your own senses?” “I don’t know,” said Scrooge. “Why do you doubt your senses?” “Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There ‘s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are…”
The action of Three Penny Lane consists of two beery friends sitting in a bar while an acquaintance, a recently divorced poet, describes to them at great length his ideas for a movie script about a recently divorced painter. This actually turns out to be an effective narrative framework, adroitly handled by Mr. Dawson. The problem is that the poet’s script, filling this clever frame, is a rambling and rather tedious soap opera, in which strident, prolonged but unrevealing altercation among the principals is mistaken for drama. The two friends hugely enjoy the poet’s cinematic recitation, but they are probably drunker—and more forgiving—than the average reader.
—David Quammen, The New York Times, 1981