cover image I Shudder at Your Touch

I Shudder at Your Touch

Various, Michele Slung. Roc, $19.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-451-45079-1

The high-voltage combination of sex and horror delivers its promised thrills in several of these stories, although some masters of the genre are seen at less than their best. Standouts include the lively and funny ``Death and the Single Girl,'' in which Thomas Disch tells what happens to a temp secretary who has given up on life and decides to call Death at the phone number she has acquired on a bus trip to a World Fellowship camp in the Catskills. Clive Barker enthralls with his eerie and powerful tale of a housewife in the depths of despair, who discovers supernatural powers in both her rage and sexuality. On the other hand, Stephen King's ``The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson'' is a relatively tame account of another housewife's loosening hold on sanity after she accidentally shoots herself. Ruth Rendell also disappoints with a predictable and unsuspenseful last meeting of lovers. Other contributors include Valerie Martin and Patrick McGrath. Slung ( Momilies: As My Mother Used to Say ) places the stories in context in brief introductions and provides short author bios. Literary Guild alternate. (June)