Who was Violet Ranney Lang? Well, she was one of the founders along with Ashbery, Gorey, Merrill and O'Hara of the Poets' Theatre up in Cambridge before they came down to become the New York School. Reputedly she is also an underground cult figure. But in fact that is neither here nor there. She is, henceforward, the subject of a memoir by novelist Alison Lurie, a suggestive and feeling portrait of a grand eccentric, constructed out of glimpses of Bunny Lang in many costumes--as debutante, as lousy actress, vicious director, self-promoting playwright, part-time burlesque chores girl, Canadian WAC, as the, exploiter of her friends, a vengeful spurned lover and finally as dying swan. She died of pleurisy in 1956 at the age of 32, and Lurie's introduction states her belief ""that if she were still alive Bunny would be better known than any of us...."" It's nice to think so, but the 48 poems and two plays incorporated here won't prove it. V.R. Lang's style--and her appeal--was that of an exuberant, irreverent comedienne. She can't fail with ""Lines for Mrs. C.: About to annihilate, in a long succession of cat murders, two old stray cats with ether, in her washing machine, with the cover on."" But the pastoral was sure as hell not her metier. Never mind. Pick and choose, be grateful for the impudence among the guff (Bunny collected all sorts of debris like she collected people--indiscriminately). And relish this pretext for 30,000 words by Alison Lurie--as smooth and knowing as ever.