The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival by Ken Wheaton

firstThe author sends up a humorous small town scenario of a Catholic priest who finds love and life amidst rural confusion and encroaching Pentecostals.

Father Steve is a bumbling thirty-something whose first church is St. Peter’s in the sleepy bump in the road that is Grand Prairie, Louisiana.  Steve is married to the church, but apparently isn’t dead.  Temptations abound, particularly in the form of Vicky Carrier, the illegitimate daughter of the previous pastor.  Steve also has his hands full with weekly visits to Miss Rita at the nursing home – she is one hundred plus, irascible, hooked on Crown Royal and fatty foods, and determined that the celibate life is not for him.

His parishioners are devoted to a degree, but Steve is afraid that the new Pentecostal church down the road is a threat to his congregation.  He fights back with bake sales and gumbo cook offs, but Miss Rita thinks he needs to put on something flashier – a carnival of sorts.  And thus, the idea of the First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival becomes, in fits and starts, a reality.

Is it easy?  Let’s throw together potential love interests, meddling old ladies, shifty carnies, gay ex-priests and Steve’s mounting insecurities, not to mention certain dirty tactics, and the festival almost becomes a bust from day one.  Steve edges very close to losing the dearest things of his isolated life, but strangely, things come into play in the end.  We won’t say how – read the book.

This one is a funny, bawdy romp through the rich stew of rural southern Louisiana.  There are lots of nods to Cajun culture, and even a couple of recipes at the end.  If your tastes in reading tend to be guarded, this one isn’t for you – but if you don’t care, like your laughs, and have a “laissez les bons temps rouler” mentality, you will probably enjoy this book.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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