Meanwhile, In the Real Grand Prairie

So apparently The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival was a topic discussion during Mass this morning in the real Grand Prairie. By the real priest. In the real St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. It seems he was a little put out — he’d been expecting perhaps a non-fiction account of the real festival, not a first-person fictional account of a laughingly bad priest.

I’ve written before about the difference between real Grand Prairie and fake Grand Prairie in a post called — wait for it — Reality vs. Fiction in Grand Prairie. This was one of the things that’s been freaking me out leading up to publication and afterward: reaction by real people. Although the characters in the book aren’t based on anyone (other than me), people do make assumptions and feelings can get hurt. It was almost enough to convince me to make up a fake town. But had I made up a fake town, then people would have known what I was talking about anyway. Besides, as a kid I always wanted to live in a town that was mentioned in books. (Opelousas is mentioned in Kerouac’s “On the Road.” I think he shoplifted a loaf of bread there.)

At any rate, though he was irked — and though my aunt was probably a little embarrassed to be sitting there while it went down — he apparently didn’t tell anyone not to buy the book and, in fact, said, “I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy the book.” I think he was just warning people not to expect the real thing. Which is fine by me. (And not just because it probably will end up selling a few more copies.)

And if it’s any consolation, I do feel bad when such things happen. I didn’t set out to offend anyone–just to tell a story and make people laugh.

Still, it’s pretty cool when I think about it. A priest was talking about me during Mass! That’s almost as cool as the good review I received in my hometown paper, The Daily World, today.

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4 thoughts on “Meanwhile, In the Real Grand Prairie

  1. Here are the actual comments from the Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church bulletin:
    New Book is “a Lie”
    Recently Kensington Fiction published a novel by author Kenneth J. Wheaton, Jr., a native of Opelousas. It is entitled “The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival.” In his own words, the author offers this note in the book: “[W]hile there is a St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in a town called Grand Prairie, Louisiana, and, there once was something called a Rabbit Festival, this book in no way reflects reality – or any reasearch – on my part. In other words, the whole thing’s a [expletive] lie.” Before you consider supporting this author by buying his novel, please know that the contents of this book are highly insulting to the Grand Prairie community and offensive to the Catholic Priesthood in general.

  2. As a former resident, I beg to differ….unfortunately, it is quite “real to life”…you have to live there to truly understand. It is truly unique.

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