About that title

One of the most common questions I've received lately has to do with the title, LUCKY FOOLS. As a reader, I love hearing about how authors come up with titles for their work, espcecially because, as a writer, I really suck at that part. (When I presented my editor a list of possible titles for the book that would become THE BROTHERS TORRES, her response was, "Is this a list of menu items at a Chili's?") So, here's an attempt to address the question. 

Perhaps my favorite part of writing this book was including a stage adaptation of THE GREAT GATSBY. The book's narrator, David, plays Nick Carraway, the narrator of GATSBY, and there are a lot of references to GATSBY hidden throught the book. Like Nick, David finds himself at times set apart, emotionally detached from the people around him. 

As I said above, I am horrible at titles. I hate them.  So when it came time to settle on a title for this book, I went back to GATSBY for inspiration. (At least I'm not the only one who has had toruble with titles. As you may already know, Fitzgerald himself struggled with an appropriate title for THE GREAT GATSBY, with some early suggestions being GOLD-HATTED GATSBY, THE HIGH-BOUNCING LOVER, AMONG THE ASH HEAPS AND MILLIONAIRES, and TRIMALCHIO IN WEST EGG.) I found my inspiration in Chapter 1, when Daisy Buchanan says of her daughter, "I hope she'll be a fool--that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool."

There was a lot that resonated with me about that line. Many of the kids in the book are born into privelege with a strong sense of entitlement, but I don't think a sense of entitlement can exist without an enabler. The helicopter parent--the mother who won't let her kid experience failure and learn from it, the father who plans out his child's future because obviously he knows best--plays the role of the enabler here. If we don't respect our kids enough to let them fail, to let them discover who they really are, then we're treating them exactly like Daisy's beautiful little fool.

Given that, my initial suggestion for a title was BEAUTIFUL FOOLS, but it wasn't quite right. My wife suggested LUCKY FOOLS, and that was that. LUCKY FOOLS captures, to me, the sense of people being born into a privelege that they don't prove themselves worthy of.

One of my favorite lines in the book comes from Big Pro, the Drama teacher and director of the GATSBY adaptation. "I’m supposed to tell you that you can change the world," he says to David at one point, "but wouldn’t you rather I tell you the truth?” 


@ Coert Voorhees 2015