The Death of the King's Canary

byDylan Thomas and John Davenport
Viking ,$8.95
Thomas had the notion of a spoofing detective story on the murder of a poet laureate, and around 1940, Davenport helped him concoct what was, at the time, unpublishable because some irate victim would surely have sued. The thing turns out to be essentially a series of lampoons of artistic and literary notables of the 1930s, with the detective-story angle forgotten. Most of the targets are now long gone and most of them are also, in the United States, forgotten, which rather takes the shine off the game. There are some clever verse parodies and occasional flashes of brilliant prose, but on the whole, this canary has crumbled to songless dust.