Census worker Nick Prince is forced to confront some pretty wacky people in Elwood, Oregon. But where in the hell is it? Way off the beaten path, in the heart of the Oregon forest at the base of the Cascades, right about here (zoom out to see it in relation to other, more familiar, Oregon landmarks):
“Senseless is a laugh-out-loud comedy, with a generous sprinkling of mystery and suspense. I was hooked from the opening sentence.” —Author Darcia Helle; New Port Richey, FL
“Awesome… hard to put down.” —Joe Rhinewine; Portland, OR
“Bannon knows part of being a writer is letting his books take on lives of their own.” —Emily Fuggetta, The Oregonian, Portland, OR
“Fabulous, fabulous book.” —Lisa Anderson, Sandy Post, Sandy, OR
“…a humorous, sensual and thrilling story that will keep you enthralled until the final page. …It reminded me a lot of Chuck Palahniuk…” —Author Jason DeGray; Boston, MA
“Martin Bannon truly writes his way across the entire human spectrum with this riveting and hilarious book.” —Grace Tippetts; Centerville, UT
“I totally enjoyed this book. Bannon’s dark humor reminded me of Carl Hiaasen.” —Libby Wentz; Gladstone, OR
“I was hooked from the beginning. A very enjoyable read right through to the end.” —Marie Kennedy; Welches, OR
“A damn good read!” —Dan Bosserman; East County Gazette, Boring, OR
“Senseless Confidential is written by a guy who obviously knows how to write a book …absolutely hysterical…. The characters are believable, full of human flaws and frailty. —Holly Bernabe; Portland, OR
“A diverse group of relatable characters and some well-placed plot twists kept me turning pages eagerly. Mr. Bannon knows what he’s doing.” —Brent Skuba; Long Beach, CA
“I found it so exhilarating that I sped through it! I need to get more books to share because this one was a life changer for me. I am so happy that you wrote this book and can’t wait to read your others.” —Sary Dobhran; Portland, OR
“[While] searching for something to freshen the Elwood, Oregon Facebook page, I ran across this book and couldn’t believe I hadn’t ever heard of it. [I] immediately purchased and read it, in one sitting; couldn’t put it down. Fun, fun, fun, fun read! We are proud of our gun-toting backwoods community and Elwood is a real place. And the events of the book–although fiction–could have seriously happened (or at least most of them). Can’t wait for the movie! I hope it is actually filmed in Elwood!” —Rhonda; Elwood, OR
The little town of Estacada, Oregon, which appears several times in my comedic novel Senseless Confidential, voted yesterday on a bond measure to fund a new fire station. It passed by only THREE votes.
Yes, I know it’s only a fire station in a little, out of the way town in rural Clackamas County. The point is, you never know which vote is going to cause any measure or candidate to succeed or fail.
Never say your vote doesn’t matter. Always remember to vote. We get the Democracy we deserve.
Polygamy provides one of several tongue-in-cheek themes for the humor in the comedic romp that is Senseless Confidential. But in real life it is a serious business, practiced in the United States predominantly by offshoots of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons), which no longer condones the practice and has no affiliation with the “apostate” churches the religion has spawned over the last 182 years.
Occasionally polygamy pops into the consciousness of the mainstream media, as with the case of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs, jailed a few years back for his role in the “taking” of underage girls to wife (a fact that is mentioned in the novel). But, more recently, polygamy has been in the spotlight because of the ascendance of Willard Mitt Romney as a contender for the U.S. presidency. It’s no secret that GOP Presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney comes from a line of polygamous Mormons, back in the day when the Salt Lake City–based main branch of the faith actively practiced “the principle” of Celestial Marriage, the sealing of multiple wives to select, “worthy” men “for time and all eternity.”
Romney is descended from two lines of polygamists, through his great-grandfathers Miles Romney and Parley P. Pratt, the latter a hero of Mormonism later murdered in Arkansas by a vengeful husband from California whose wife Pratt stole fora plural wife after converting her to Mormonism .
Romney biographer Lawrence Wright says of the polygamous Romneys:
Although Romney, like other Mormons, defends the practice of polygamy in the early days of the Church by pointing to a surplus of women in Utah, census reports for the time show roughly equal numbers of men and women. Church leaders were told to take multiple wives and “live the principle.” In religions where polygamy is still practiced — for example, in Islam — the number of wives is usually a reflection of the husband’s wealth; the currency behind Mormon polygamy, however, seems to have been spiritual. Only men are given the priesthood power of salvation, and through them women gain access to the celestial kingdom. Faithful women were naturally drawn to men who they believed could guarantee eternal life; in fact, Brigham Young authorized women to leave their husbands if they could find a man “with higher power and authority” than their present husband. Apparently, many of them did, as shown by the rate of divorce at the time.
It’s interesting to note that it’s census numbers that contradict the oft-repeated claim of “more women than men” used to justify Mormon polygamy, because the main character in Senseless Confidential, Nick Prince, is a harried employee of the U.S. Census Bureau, who stumbles upon a secretive polygamous clan deep in the forests of the Oregon Cascades in the tiny almost-town of Elwood. Unlike many real-life experiences with polygamy, Nick’s are humorous.
So, go ahead and laugh as you read Senseless Confidential; just remember that for many women and children—as well as the men either forced into the practice by domineering religious leaders—it is a deadly serious subject. That is true as well for the young men driven out of polygamous communities in order to eliminate rivals or reduce competition for older, already-married men looking to add to their spousal collection.
“Hi. I’m Nick Prince from the U.S. Census Bureau.”
“I don’t want any.”
“Any of what you’re selling.”
“I’m not selling anything. I’m conducting a government census.”
“Goddamn government! Can’t trust ’em with my personal information.”
“It’s confidential, sir, by law.”
“Law? Whose law? Where does it say I have to tell you anything?”
“Title 13 of the U.S. Code, actually.”
“Yeah? It was written by those Socialist-Fascists-Jihadists in Washington and I’m not going to do it.”
“Is that why you’re flying the flag here?”
“Damn right. I’m a patriot. I fought and died for my country.”
Apparently your brain did. I think this but don’t say it. Instead I say, “Well, help me out here, ‘cuz I’m dying too. I’m required to gather this information or they’ll discipline me for failure to perform my duties.”
“I told you. I’m not going to do it. They’ll use the information to start locking people up.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Michelle Bachmann said so.”
“And you fact-checked this?”
“Fact? What’s that?”
“Never mind. It’s something they don’t use on your news channel.”
“Well, you can’t trust any of ’em.”
“Except Michelle Bachmann.”
“She’s looking out for our freedoms.”
“Well, this information is used by Congress to pass important bills—you know, Congress, where Michelle Bachmann works? She’d like to know how many adults and children live here. If you could just share that much, I’m sure it would help her defend your freedoms.”
“All I’m gonna say is that there are two adults, two children, twelve guns—and we know how to use ’em—and a pit bull.”
“That would be the one attached to my ankle, I presume. Tell me, are you employed?”
“Goddamn government. They’re job-killers! Nobody here has a job!”
Except the pit bull, apparently. “Thank you for your time. And have a nice day.”
Go ahead—you can tell me, I’m sworn to secrecy.
Bet you thought that only your lawyer or your pastor could get away with keeping secrets from the law. But there’s one other person you can tell your darkest secrets to with total confidence: the Census worker. That’s right, field representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau are constrained by Title 13 of the U.S. Code—that’s the book of laws of the United States government—from revealing anything they learn about you in the course of fulfilling their duties. Don’t believe me? Go look up Title 13.
This is the message that Nick Prince, the protagonist of the new comedic thriller, “Senseless: Confidential” labors to convey to the menagerie of folks he meets in the backwoods of the Oregon Cascades. The penalty for violating Title 13 is a fine of $250,000 and 5 years in prison; not a consequence Nick is willing to accept. So, when things begin to go terribly wrong one day after he knocks at the gate of a polygamist community, he can tell no one; even when it leads to him being a prime suspect in the mayhem that ensues.
Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. So, go ahead, unburden yourself to that Census worker who knocks at your door. In fact, if you’re really twisted, tell her the most disgusting things you can dream up, and make her carry them around in her claustrophobic little head for the rest of her life, never being able to reveal them to anyone!