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Ariel Delgado Dixon to Discuss Novel about Troubled Teen Industry
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Monday, May 2, 2022
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Ariel Delgado Dixon’s book “Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You” was named one of the most anticipated books of 2022 by Good Housekeeping, Autostraddle and The Millions.

And the graduate of Boise State University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing will be here to talk about it at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at The Community Library.

Dixon, a New Jersey native who is currently working parttime as a farmhand in Philadelphia, is the Library’s current Hemingway Writer-in-Residence.

“Returning to Idaho has been a dreamy, full-circle experience after graduating Boise State's MFA in 2019,” she said.

“Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You” is a somewhat spooky treatise on sisterhood that follows two sisters who unite to confront a traumatic upbringing that involved absentee parents and a wilderness camp for troubled teens where cruel and misguided counselors try to break them down psychologically.

The two have lived in a dilapidated warehouse north of New York City where their parents had hoped to start an art commune. But when the girls’ father vanishes, their neglectful mother sends them to the camp and they retreat into strange worlds of their own mythmaking.

Dixon was inspired to write about the Troubled Teen Industry, which includes boot camps inspired by military training, behavior modification facilities, wilderness therapy and gay conversion centers, as her MFA thesis by a friend who spent many years inside it, emerging with what Dixon called the wildest, most tragic and absurd stories.

“A story that’s so weird, it has to be true,” said a reviewer for The New York Times of Dixon’s book. “…keeps our attention in a chokehold.”

“Ariel’s book is outstanding and haunting and mesmerizing,” said Martha Williams, the Library’s director of programs and education.

A reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly said that readers of her first book will be excited to see what Dixon does next. And, in fact, she’s working on her second novel as the Hemingway Writer-in-Residence. That book is set at a marijuana farm in Humboldt County, California, and explores such themes as Manifest Destiny and fulfilling one’s potential.

“Now that I'm working on my second novel—which happens to be set in the West—having the dedicated space and time to get my appetite going on a new project is no small thing,” Dixon said. “I'm very grateful to be surrounded by such inspiring vistas, warm and accommodating folks who support the arts, and a historic setting to crack open this next book. I wrote the entirety of my first novel out here in Idaho, and it feels fitting to make a dent in the next book while here in the Gem State.”

Dixon will be joined in Tuesday’s conversation by fellow BSU MFA graduate Mary Pauline Lowry. Lowry, author of “The Roxy Letters,” a comic novel about an unlucky-in-love Whole Foods employee, was a 2020 writer-in-residence with The Library.

"It's so refreshing to be around a writer like Ariel who is both totally brilliant and very humble,” said Lowry. “I'm in awe of her razor-sharp sentences and the way the cascading timelines in Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You allow for the past to echo in the present."

Those who wish to attend the free conversation in person are encouraged to register at https://thecommunitylibrary.libcal.com/event/8842676. The presentation may be watched via Vimeo live or via recording at https://vimeo.com/event/2070738.

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