Crisply written recyclings of 20 often-told anecdotes--most of them horror-tales (familiar from TV-anthology versions), some merely sick jokes, each supposedly involving ""a basic fear or a particular attraction that finds a universal response."" Illicit lovers are stranded in a car, one of them then killed by an escaped homicidal lunatic. A fortuneteller predicts a death. A beloved pet canary is unintentionally killed by the owner. A couple has a secret ""monster-child."" Misunderstandings lead to the death of a road-test examiner, a baby being tossed out a port-hole. Unsuspecting folks discover dismembered fingers, a horde of spiders, or corpses. Cannibalism and burial-alive are touched on. And a few of the bits (a disproportionately small group) involve sex or money rather than gore: a bride indulges in a pre-nuptial last fling with anonymous sex (the stranger turns out to be the best man); an angry wife sells her husband's Porsche for $10. Plus: the very familiar one about the plane-crash avoided at the last minute. But, though Greig (pseudonym for an English poet/critic) fills out these one-sentence ideas with dry, literate efficiency and a trace of irony, this collection fails to provide the socio-cultural interest of genuinely-captured oral tradition (with vague, usually British settings); nor do any of the tales take on full-fiction values. And the result is a seemingly purposeless, mildly unpleasant potpourri of clichÃ‰s--most of which have been put to more creative use elsewhere.