Here are some excerpts from a 2009 interview with one of my favorite authors.
Q: Do you find you’ve become more creative as you’ve gotten older? Oh, yes. I’m much, much better with creative things—people generally get better. They just know more.
Q: Your mind certainly seems to have stayed fertile. Yes, but what’s really important is humor—the way you see through things. And I don’t mean just “Ho, ho, ho!” but real irony about the diabolical nature of things. If you don’t have that, you just collapse.
Q: Except most people probably don’t think “funny” when they think of Toni Morrison and her books. Well, let me tell you what the deal is about the happiness in my books. I do not write about people who are just going to live a happy life, because it’s not compelling, there’s no angst. But if people have had an epiphany, that is called happiness. Some way they are improved. It may be a hard lesson, but to me a good idea and realization is the best thing there is for the mind.
Q: You yourself certainly seem happy. How do you reconcile the desire to stay this way with the realities of aging, of loss? I can’t. I don’t reconcile. I’m unreconciled. Completely. I’m not even reconciled to my own death! What kind of outrage is that?
Q: So what does that mean—are we, you, approaching aging all wrong? No, no. We should be as active and cared for—in health terms—and busy as possible. The bad thing is regret.
Q: You have regret? Oh, yes. Full of it— everything I did right, I didn’t do well enough. I’m not morbid at all. It’s just that I would like to do it again.
Q: But you won the Nobel Prize! That made you happy? It made my mother happier. And it got me a lot of money.
Q: Did it change you? It changed other people—they look at you differently. And then people use you—nicely, but that’s okay. It’s like there’s a person who won the Nobel Prize, and her name is Toni Morrison. And then there’s a person right behind her named Chloe [Morrison’s birth name], and that’s me.
Are you a Morrison fan? What’s your favorite book?