When Night Falls
by Cait London, contemporary (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-000180-1


Now that the likes of Joan Johnston, Rachel Lee, and Teresa Hill, the reigning Queens of Trauma Porn, have enjoyed great success as superleaders of the exploitative subgenre, Cait London, who has been writing as long as if not longer than most of the Trauma Porn Queens must be gritting her teeth. Damn it, she too can be the new Trauma Porn Queen. Unfortunately, When Night Falls is the most discordant Trauma Porn entry this author has ever submitted.

In fact, I am still rather unsure what this story is about, unless a catalogue of the characters' dysfunctions, all made with the subtlety of a stone drill on my skull, is what we consider a "story" nowadays. Uma Thornton witnessed the death of her friend right before her eyes a year before and now she is screwed up so much that you can easily use her to hold two planks and an iron bar together.

Mitchell Warren comes home, and he has a history with her. Something about he being unworthy of love, guilt-ridden over his failed marriage, baggages from his parents' divorce, and a zillion more self-inflicted "macho" garbage - it's like a dark cloud of Chernobylia stink cloud blowing into Madrid, Oklahoma.

Not that Madrid, Oklahoma is any nice place to live in to begin with. Everyone seems to have secrets, everyone is nasty, everyone is screwed up so much so that we can stock a DIY store forever with these toolish morons. Mitchell has kissed Uma once long ago when he is hurting like hell over his broken relationship, and his baggages, all inherently selfish and self-absorbed, become his excuse to lust and paw and push away Uma. Uma, her baggages inherently selfless and stupidly martyr-tinged, becomes everybody's favorite whipping post. Two people happily slashing each other and themselves with the blades of their guilt and self-pity, S&M at its most perverse. Every flirtation, every consummation, and every second-guessing of the other becomes yet more excuse to sulk, whine, indulge in self-pity, and scream.

Oh, and there's a serial killer in here. Or something. Not that we need that loser, because if you ask me, Umamamamamama and Mitchbitch here are doing a splendid job already killing me slowly.

I know there is a big audience for Trauma Porn. They must be the same readers that are making that Last American Man or something book a bestseller. Macho selfish men who can't let go of their self-inflicted hurt making their women's lives a living hell, women who won't let go even if they are being eviscerated by Circumstances and Trauma, that sort of thing. But blood and guts spilled in the name of exhibitionist melodrama is not my thing, alas. Maybe it's time someone go to these small towns and do everybody a favor by erecting a billboard that says "Oh grow up!"

Rating: 37


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