Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory

by Ryley Harris

One of the things that makes Ernest Hemingway such an amazing fiction writer is his use of ambiguity. “Indian Camp,” one of his famous earlier stories, is especially difficult to figure out at first. This is due to the fact that Hemingway writes according to what he calls the iceberg theory. As he explains in Death in the Afternoon,

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.

This approach can lead to some difficulties since Hemingway omits some useful information that would help advance the reading to fill in the gaps. On the other hand, omitting the information makes the readers infer what is happening and create new theories or ideas of what’s happening. One notable instance of the iceberg theory in “Indian Camp” has to do with Nick’s Uncle George, whose connection to the native woman in labor is suggested in several ways.

There are several different moments in “Indian Camp” that suggest that Uncle George is actually the baby’s father. The first moment occurs when Nick and his father come to the camp to help the pregnant woman give birth. When they arrive, we read that “Uncle George gave both the Indians cigars.” Traditionally, this is something a father would do. The second moment occurs when everyone is holding down the pregnant woman, and “[s]he bit Uncle George on the arm…” This action could be read as revenge against the man who impregnated her. This reading can be supported by the fact that the “father” of the baby killed himself when the baby was born, as if he knew that the baby was not his own. The last bit of evidence that supports Uncle George

being the father of the baby is that he stays behind at the Indian camp, which can be seen as a sign of fatherly love or obligation .

A story written according to the iceberg theory creates a lot of ambiguity. If the writer knows what they are doing—it can lead to fascinating fiction that makes the reader more involved.

If you want to read “Indian Camp,” click on this link:

Click to access Hemingway%2C+Indian+Camp.pdf

If you want to read Death in the Afternoon, click on this link:

How Holly Jackson Wrote the Perfect Mystery Novel

By Skylar Hart

Over the summer, I indulged in reading many books; however, Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was one I could not put down. The young adult novel follows a 17-year-old girl, Pippa, who decides to dedicate her school project to diving deep into a local murder-suicide that took place and was considered a closed case by her town. While the story is primarily a thriller or perhaps, a murder mystery, it also remains heartwarming, sweet, and somehow still leaves you guessing the killer with Pippa until the very end.

I believe the true power of Jackson’s writing lies in her ability to keep the reader in a position of just enough “not knowing.” While we get the thoughts and dialogue of the protagonist, Pippa, and those around her, we are left in the dark about the world around her and the truth of the mystery she is trying to solve, who killed Andie Bell and why? Pippa believes the boy accused of her friend’s sister’s death is not to blame and she becomes more sure of this when bad things begin to happen in her own life as she slowly uncovers more. At one point in the story, Pippa grows closer to uncovering the murderer and soon, her dog is found killed in the woods behind her home. Bad things begin to follow Pippa, and she cannot help but believe she is getting warmer to the truth. There are so many moments you think you figured Jackson out and suddenly, you are thrown for another loop. You have your narrative in mind and you are sure of it and suddenly, you are wrong.

“Not knowing” has a power of its own. “Not knowing” leaves the reader guessing and coming up with a narrative of their own that makes it interesting to figure out the truth. In the how-to book The Making of a Story, Alice LaPlante writes, “All this, of course, is simply another way to say that we should write about what we don’t know about what we know. Without using this sense of not-knowingness, or mystery, as a starting point, anything we write will be lifeless and predictable.” Jackson’s emphasis on not-knowingness makes the reader want to keep flipping pages and reading lines. I quite literally wanted to jump into the book and start filing through cold case files myself. The “not knowing” almost puts you right there with the protagonist and leaves you just as unsure as them.

If there is one book I wish I could unread so that I could read it again and get the same experience, it would be A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder in a heartbeat. It is funny, charming, thrilling, and truly a book to be read by true-crime lovers (like me) everywhere!

Jackson, Holly. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. 2019.

LaPlante, Alice. The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing. Langara College, 2019.

Literary Themed Fun Facts

  • Fahrenheit 451 was originally supposed to be titled The Fireman
  • Charles Dickens was a firm believer of the supernatural and was even a part of a Ghost Club. He was also known to sleep facing North as he believed it would improve his writing.  
  • The world’s most avid readers come from India, which has an average reading time of 10.7 hours a week. 
  • In the Victor Hugo novel Les Miserables, there is a sentence that is 823 words long. This is the longest sentence written in a published novel to date.  
  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has been banned in China since 1931 because the governor of the Hunan Province believed that allowing both animals and humans the ability to speak was “disastrous.”  
  • The first public library opened in America was located in Charleston, South Carolina in 1698.  
  • Some of the strangest objects found inside library or secondhand books include a butterfly, lizard, polaroid picture of fried eggs, matches (hidden in the book by removing several pages), and spectacles from approximately 1930.  

Blue Route Call for Art!

Though the deadline has passed for poetry and prose submissions, the Blue Route is still seeking art submissions for our 28th issue! We welcome works of any medium from all undergraduate students so long as they can be converted into a digital format for publication. In the past, we have incorporated gorgeous photographs, paintings, sketches, and digital art among many others into our issues. There is no theme for this issue, so the sky’s the limit! If you or someone you know creates art and is interested in publication, please feel free to submit any and all pieces to us at wutheblueroute@gmail.com! Thank you and we cannot wait to see what you come up with!

REMINDER: Submission Deadline is November 15

JUST A REMINDER: The Blue Route will be accepting submissions until November 15. If you are an undergraduate student, we encourage you to submit you poetry, prose, or art. For more information, please see our submission guidelines. We look forward to seeing your work!

Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors Conference

Widener University is hosting this year’s Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) conference on Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5. The conference is virtual this year and will feature undergraduate student panelists from PA to CA. There will also be a panel of FUSE alumni, an open mic, and a 24-hour literary magazine challenge.

If you work on undergraduate publications at your school, you’ll want to make plans to Zoom in. The conference is quite affordable. Institutional membership in FUSE for 2022-2023 costs only $50.00 and grants unlimited access for students, faculty, and staff to FUSE 2022. The fee for individual attendees is only 25.00. For the conference schedule and registration information, check out the FUSE National website: https://www.fuse-national.com/

The Blue Route editors will be there. Hope to see you as well!

Dissociation in “Some Spring Girls do Die” from Love and War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez 

By Gabby Norris

“Her steps must’ve been light today. Death always seems to come heavy in the night, but it awoke her with a kiss this morning” (77). 

What struck me most about this quote, and this piece in general, is the switch between first and third person at the start of each new paragraph. Given the title and content of this work, the first thought that came to my mind was the concept of dissociation, where one experiences an out of body moment brought on by intense feelings of depression. In these moments of severe depression, the brain chooses to separate one from the body they are in in hopes of minimizing the trauma that they experience. The narrator in this story might feel like herself one moment, and then feel forced to refer to herself as “she” the next because she doesn’t even identify with the body she’s in.  

Another idea that entered my mind is the existence of another girl, as hinted at by the plural “girls” in the title. Perhaps the narrator’s story is being intertwined with that of another girl who has already chosen to end her life. In this reading, there is an eerie foreshadowing that follows the unidentified girl’s last day alive before committing suicide as we are also brought along on the narrator’s day, insinuating that is is also her last. Perhaps neither of these readings are correct and perhaps the truth is something else entirely. Rodriguez could very well be intending to leave it up to the best guess of each reader, allowing them to pick the version that best suits their interests. Either way, I think this is a fantastic piece that is a part of an even better collection that’s both truthful and entirely compelling.  

Issue 27 now live!

Announcing issue 27 of The Blue Route, featuring undergraduate writers from Bellevue College, Berea College, Boston University, Cal Poly SLO University, Central Michigan University, Pittsburg State University, and University of Mississippi. Read it now at issuu.com. Thanks to all contributors for sharing your work.

The Blue Route at AWP

Stefan Cozza


It’s a grey Wednesday afternoon in Philadelphia, and the city is roaring at its rambunctious state of equilibrium. To most, its business as usual with mobbed crosswalks and blaring car horns operating around the clock, but in one relatively small section of a tremendously large city, thousands of writers are gearing for Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (AWP), one of the biggest events in the industry. 

I am one of those writers and for all the commotion that was about to ensue, the conference attendees felt oddly quiet. Maybe it’s because as writers, our voices ring loudest on the page, but there was a calmness that afternoon, and it really continued throughout the length of the conference.

​This was my thought process as I arrived and prepared for my first in-person AWP conference. The event was massive and packed an incredible amount of activity within the Philadelphia Convention Center. It was almost overwhelming trying to take in the plethora of events continuously running throughout the day, on top of the largest book fair I have ever seen and off-site readings. 

I did my best to prepare in advance for the event, and I planned which panelists and topics I was dead-set on attending, along with major publications I needed to see at the book-fair. I would recommend that anyone thinking of attending to do the same because there is just so much to explore. While it is difficult to pick just one favorite from the conference, I would have to say I enjoyed Toi Derricotte’s keynote presentation the best. Not only is the keynote speaker an event where the entire Widener group attends together, but it was such a joyous and inspiring night. Toi Derricotte is truly one of a kind. 

Despite being limited by the hours in the day, it was nice hearing from fellow Widener students and faculty about events they attended; everyone did their own thing, so it was great to hear what went on in events that I may have wanted to attend but didn’t get the time. 

Here are some reflections from a couple creative writing students on their time at the conference.  

Christina Giska 

“I visited the bookfair almost every day that I was there. At first. I walked back and forth without much of a plan, but I ultimately began talking to people at the tables. I thought it would be awkward, or the people would be overly eager to get me to sign up/pay for things, but it was actually a very enjoyable experience. I got to talk to people and learn about various presses and literary magazines. I also bought several books that I would not have known about otherwise. Some were even signed by the author. I will admit that I sometimes felt obligated to buy a book if the author was there and promoting it, which is an odd feeling that I had never really considered beforehand.”

Gabby Norris 

“The first in person session I attended was a Brevity journal reading by four authors who have had their nonfiction published there in the past. I think this might have been my favorite session of the entire conference because the pieces were incredibly moving and vastly different though they were all a part of the same genre. It gave me reassurance that nonfiction involving trauma does not automatically mean it is boring or cannot generate an audience, nor does every nonfiction piece sound the same. One of the panelists, Ira Sukrungruang, had been a visiting writer at Widener in the past and I was already a fan of his work going into AWP this year, so it was especially exciting to both see him and hear his work read. Interestingly, one of the panelists had studied under another, so that was quite inspiring to see a student and teacher succeeding side by side. Looking back at the notes I took during this session; I realize I wrote that nonfiction does not have to be limited to traumatic or otherwise negative events; nonfiction pieces can be about anything true such as vandalism of library books or reading someone else’s letter to a lover.”

Everyone in our group came away with something different from their time at the conference. Despite us all being there and experiencing the event together, everyone left with their own unique story to tell.

Book Review: How to Not Be Afraid Of Everything

By Stefan Cozza

It is a common misconception that because poetry is smaller in scale compared to a novel or series of essays, it is less grandiose in its vision or aspiration. As a poet, this is not only disheartening, but entirely untrue. Instead of debating the futility of this argument to a poetry skeptic, I would simply point them toward Jane Wong’s How To Not Be Afraid of Everything. Whatever expectations you have regarding poetry, throw them out the window. If someone has never read a poetry collection, I would absolutely recommend Wong’s collection as a gateway. Having no prior experience with Jane Wong, I had no expectations or reference bar for the work. I was going in with a completely blank slate and that lack of judgement profoundly heightened the experience.

The deeper I go into the poetry weeds; I find myself most attracted to poetry that oozes confidence and control. A confident poet can take the reader wherever they want them to go, however dark, chaotic, or messy it may be. No other poet has had the confidence to start a collection with a Mad-Lib. The first piece, “Mad” threw me so off guard that I had to prepare myself for the task of filling in the missing gaps. That choice to demand so much from the reader, right out the gate, is bold and alluring. If a reader did have expectations, they were dismantled immediately. What is even more captivating, is the fact that the poems feel complete, despite the blank spaces. Writing this, Wong was confident that the reader would subconsciously know the right answer. How to Not Be Afraid of Everything” is not only a brilliant poetry collection, but a social agreement with the author that we can be responsible and still live our truth.