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First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival Paperback – September 25, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Kensington House Pub Ltd (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758287615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758287618
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 7.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,233,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Authentic Cajun touches (and recipes) spice up Wheaton's delightful debut yarn about faith and the yearnings of the flesh. Fr. Steve Sibille, the reflective protagonist, is re-evaluating his vow of celibacy after being tempted by Vicky Carrier, the sinfully conceived but beloved daughter of St. Peter's church's former padre. Father Steve considers the repeated advice of his family friend Miss Rita, a scene-stealing African-American centenarian who tells Father Steve that what he needs is a woman. Things get stickier for Father Steve when his gay friend, Fr. Mark Johnson, quits the priesthood and the Rev. Paul Tompkins attempts to woo St. Pete congregants to his Pentecostal church, leading to a big showdown and the festival of the title. Wheaton writes with an infectious energy, and his affection for the characters and culture is authentic without being overbearing or cheesy. Do the bon temps rouler? In Wheaton's hands, they sure do. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Father Steve, a small-town Louisiana priest, has major problems. First, the women. Denise, a self-styled Lolita, is one of his two altar girls. Miss Rita, a centenarian daughter of a slave who helped raised Steve, lives on the booze, pork skins, and other illegal foods he sneaks into the nursing home. Four female congregants have stopped coming to morning mass because he made eye contact during the service. And Vicky, the illegitimate daughter of the previous priest, is becoming much more than a friend. Father Steve’s other friend, the charming Father Mark, is leaving the priesthood because of issues with his homosexuality. Yet Father Steve considers the Pentecostals to be the biggest thorn in his side. Their charismatic preacher has set up shop just down the road, and will stop at nothing to build his own flock, including wooing the local Catholics. So Father Steve does the only thing he can to keep his church intact: he organizes the First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. Readers need to hold onto their hats because Wheaton’s roller-coaster ride of a book has hilarious highs that plunge to soul-baring angst, then zoom back up to the top. --Shelley Mosley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ken Wheaton was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, in 1973. Raised Catholic and Cajun, Wheaton aspired to one day be a Navy pilot but was sideline by bad eyesight and poor math skills. He graduated from Opelousas Catholic School in 1991 and went off to Southampton College-Long Island University in Southampton, New York, intending to study Marine Biology. An excess of drinking and (again) a dearth of math skills, led him to become an English major. From there he returned to Louisiana, where he received an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana-Lafayette).

Now the managing editor of trade publication Advertising Age, Wheaton lives in Brooklyn, New York. The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival is his first published novel.

Customer Reviews

The characters are interesting and very entertaining.
Tracey
Mr. Wheaton also looks at sexuality through Father Mark, the openly gay priest who descends on Grand Prairie and Father Steve like a flamboyant hurricane.
Joshua Sternberg
Rarely do I read a book that makes me laugh out loud, but this one did -- several times.
Weston reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Sara Lambert on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
I cracked the cover on this book at 3:15 yesterday and could not put it down until I finished it at ten minutes to midnight last night. The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival had me laughing from the Author's Note all the way through Gumbo For Dummies and Ken's Crawfish Etouffee - which, by the way, had my mouth watering for some good Cajun food at a time when it was impossible to get any such thing, thankyouverymuch, Mr. Wheaton.

Back to the story...

The Holy Grail of fiction is for an author to take one of the seven basic plots of literature and do something with it that nobody's ever done before. Now, whether or not anyone has ever done this before, I don't know, as I have not read every single book out there. But what I do know is that Ken Wheaton took a creature so far beyond my Southern Protestant understanding - a Catholic priest - that we might as well be a different species, and made him relatable. He told me a story I'd never heard told in quite the same way. He made me laugh and cringe and even tear up when his words reminded me it's time to go visit Ezella, who is my family's Miss Rita.

Witty and clever with a strong look at human nature, all wrapped up in a refreshingly well-written package. Time for a sequel, Ken.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Darren Campo on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
I had only read a few sentences and I was hooked. The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival starts with this mystery of the main character seeing flashes of red, then gives us one amazing character after another. It's a struggle to put the book down because I did not want the story to end. I savored every page and hope there will be lots more from this Ken Wheaton!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Palan on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Grand Prairie almost reads like an autobioghaphical story. I felt like I was there in that town, like I knew all those people, and when I think back on the twenty or so books I've read this year, this one is definately my favorite.
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Format: Paperback
A campaign to protect his Parish from treacherous Pentecostal invaders prompts Father Steve Sibille to organize the biggest event ever in Opelousas, Louisiana: the First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. Obsessing about the Pentecostal Reverend (Brother Paul) merely hardens Father Steve's determination, and the priest uses every weapon in his arsenal, playing to his community's greatest strengths. One of these is accepting the notion (in good faith) that "sinners will be sinners" and that minor vices are actually things people quite enjoy and don't intend to stop doing altogether. These vices, in fact, are often some of the glue that holds St. Pete's Parish together. With the aid of friends Mark Johnson and Vicky Carrier, Father Steve plans an event formidable enough to conquer the opposing forces. In the process, however, Steve becomes closer than he ever intended to Vicky, a long-time friend and volunteer.

From the beginning, Father Steve is a different kind of priest than you might expect: he curses, moans and even has human urges that make him seem a lot like many of the rest of us. His friends are less than pillars of virtue, too, so the three together make quite the trio! Vicky Carrier is a community activist and a long-time volunteer for the Church. She's a delightful young woman who's more than just your average volunteer as she's always hanging out with Father Steve and doesn't treat him with any particular reverence. The fact that Vicky's late father was a priest himself seems to give Vicky a whole different view on the priests' vows. Father Mark Johnson is quite the character as well, a charming guy who befriends Father Steve early on. Mark is himself struggling with the priesthood, having joined probably for the wrong reasons.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Mac on March 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
Best book I have read in over a year! Hands down.
The story just flowed like water. The characters were real and will stick with me for a long time.
This book just came alive for me. I didn't want to put it down but I never wanted it to end. Savoring every word.
This book is funny as all get-out. I rarely laugh out loud when reading, but with this book I found myself laughing like a kid.
Wonderful read. Amazing characters! Hard to go wrong with buying this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Zimmerman VINE VOICE on January 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
Out of the growing tradition of Louisiana-educated creative writers now living in Brooklyn (Landsman: A Novel by Peter Charles Melman) comes Ken Wheaton's debut novel, the intriguingly-titled "First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival". It helps to live in Louisiana, so you'll know something about the state's love for small town festivals dedicated to frogs, crawfish, jambalaya and three dozen or more other cultural icons. To my knowledge, there's no actual rabbit festival, but perhaps there should be if it's as fun as Wheaton's tale. (Grand Prairie is a small town in central Louisiana, not a oversize variety of rabbit.)

But more about the book. Wheaton tells the painfully hilarious story of thirtyish Father Steve Sibille, assigned to his hometown's St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church (which Wheaton pointedly notes in a preface, in no way resembles the real church of the same name). Women from age 13 to 113, or thereabouts, hound him about a variety of not-very-spiritual matters, testing his priestly vows along the way. Father Steve's primary coping mechanism seems to be drinking significantly more than a sacramental amount of alcohol. The Rabbit Festival is a brainstorm in response to the threat that a rival Pentecostal church poses to the flock.

Wheaton's knowledge that comes from growing up in nearby Opelousas and breezy writing style pull you right into Grand Prairie. His characters, which include a gay priest, a wisecracking centenarian, the daughter of the previous priest (that's right), and a smarmy Pentacostal preacher and his son, are pretty broadly drawn, but appropriately so for a comic novel.
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