Toni Morrison Talks to Google about Creativity

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Unlike Philip Roth, who announced recently he was done with fiction, Morrison has no plan to quit. She is working on a new novel but acknowledges she’s having a hard time. The problem isn’t the narrative itself but the time in which she’s set the story — the present, an era she’s still trying to understand.

Morrison, an early endorser of Amazon.com’s Kindle reading device and the author of prize winners including “Song of Solomon,” said she’s not a Luddite and does keep up with the Internet, enough so that she much prefers the nonfiction she reads on blogs to fiction. And she credited the Internet as an information resource.

“It shortens research enormously, months of time you would normally spend in libraries, just trying to read books,” she said.

She cited an example from her most recent novel, set in the 1950s.

“I was looking for documentation for who could not rent or buy property in Seattle,” she said. “And I knew black people couldn’t, but I didn’t have any real examples. But via Google I went through stuff and found these lease arrangements.”

But the digital age can still catch her off guard. When on-stage interviewer Torrence Boone, a Google managing director, casually mentioned that their discussion would be replayed on the Internet, Morrison sounded as if caught in the act.

“You heard me say all that stuff about corn and stuff?” she asked.

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