Interview conducted by Brittany Parziale, Connections Intern
Maia Farish, wife of President Donald J. Farish, is First Lady of RWU.
Maia Farish is currently reading Norwegian by Night written by Derek B. Miller. This thrilling literary novel tells the story of Sheldon Horowitz, an 82-year-old Jewish widower living in Oslo with his granddaughter and her Norwegian husband, who becomes a party to a hate crime in which he finds his long sought out opportunity to protect and help others. The novel is a unique hybrid of part memory, part police procedural, part sociopolitical tract, and part existential mediation.
“It is a crazy book,” She says. “It is funny but at the same time it is really dark.” Maybe not one of her normal reads, the protagonist being a cranky old Jewish man from New York “took me back to growing up in New York surrounded by Jewish friends and their fathers and grandfathers.”
All of Reynolds Price’s books, – including A Long and Happy Life and Three Gospels. Other memorable reads include Three Junes (2002) and The Widower’s Tale (2010) both written by Julia Glass. The Widower’s Tale is particularly interesting as it is written by a female author in the first person perspective of a man. “I have a strong admiration for authors who are able to successfully write in the opposite gender.” Several books from childhood also remain memorable, such as Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, Cricket in Times Square, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm as a child.
“I find myself mostly reading personal, dense novels with various levels of complexity, gravitating towards favorite authors more so than subjects.” Mrs. Farish looks for authors who can manage dialogue that captures the actual voices and lifestyles of their characters, adding very realistic elements to their works of fiction. She notes high praise for literary writers such as Marilynne Robinson and Ron Rash, but also has a soft spot for crime novels by authors including Donna Leon, Kate Atkinson, and Colin Dexter. Nathaniel Philbrick, who she admires, remains on the top of her list for his ability to teach his love of history through storytelling, bringing historical events to life in a unique way. “One of my favorite aspects of reading is being able to come away from books knowing there are so many human experiences one cannot begin to consider without reading.”
M Train by Patti Smith. Mrs. Farish has taken with Smith’s 2009 memoir Just Kids for “the fluid and luminous writing that was so different from her music.” Mrs. Farish appreciates how Smith’s writing balances a very intimate manner with respect and authenticity.
Armistead Maupin’s book series Tales of the City. The series consists of nine novels all taking place in Northern California during the outbreak of the AIDS crisis. The first book was published in 1978.”These books are the perfect combination of heartbreaking and funny consisting of amazing dialogue.” Mrs. Farish has made it through the first six, and is clearing out space on her nightstand for the final three.