A good title should have its own story
Fences of the Light has been with me since I was a teenager, and in love with the poems of Dylan Thomas. I didn’t particularly like the always-mentioned-first one about the “raging against the dying of the light.” But I have loved fanatically another thing he said about the light, maybe about another light altogether.
To me, the poem “When once the twilight locks no longer” ends with the three most influential lines of any poem I’ve ever read. It has been a source for endless thinking about the reality of our world—or the possible larger reality of a world we can’t see.
“The fences of the light are down,
All but the briskest riders thrown,
And worlds hang on the trees.”
(Used in my book with permission from New Directions Publishing Corp.)
Written in Spanish around 1972, “Los Cercos de La Luz” was the title of a (long) short story I wrote. It anticipated the basic plot of “The Matrix” movie and computer simulations as we know them today. The story went nowhere, mainly because it was hard to explain virtual reality to readers—and writers and publishers who had never used a computer.
But the title stayed with me; it wouldn’t go away. It has stayed with me for as close as forever something stays in our human lives.
A good title should also be more than just a descriptive comment
In Fences of the Light, the novel’s title is also the title of a mysterious book the main character is entrusted to write—mysteriously, and under mysterious circumstances. He would keep wondering what it meant.
Eventually—and adding a time-travel paradox—the not-yet-written book is titled with a line from a Dylan Thomas poem that the main character’s father once read to him as a child. In a forgotten other life that he had.
A good title takes a different meaning at the end of its book