Books in Print
This elegant chapbook is a memoir about Marianne’s life with books. As a newcomer to Canada, for instance, she used books as a gateway into the English language and Canadian culture and history. There is a glimpse of young Marianne’s favourite reading chair and of the beginnings of her personal library.
But her life with books began long before that. With Books gives a word picture of one of her early memories of being read to by her mother, in war-time Holland. Having been read to as a child, Marianne recounts how, many decades later, she read aloud to her very elderly father, using books to create a space where the two of them could connect and share memories at a time when his mind was fading. She explores both of these examples of shared reading.
And she goes behind these experiences to show the important role that memory plays in the process of reading. This leads to a consideration of the “reading moment”, the constantly moving instant of time when the reader connects with the page, a moment which links past with future, the memories that we bring to that moment and the future where our imagination leads us.
Every kind of reading is presented as a refuge for the human spirit.
(Stonegarden Studios, 2012. http://www.stonegardenstudios.ca/index.php . Encaustic drawings by Paul Roorda.)
Thinking Big, Building Small: Low-tech Solutions for Food, Water, and Energy
Jock Brandis, Marianne’s youngest brother, is a social entrepreneur and an inventor of low-tech devices for food processing, irrigation, and other aspects of agriculture. This technology was first used in the developing world but equipment is now being designed for use in industrialized countries. All of these tools have two main purposes: to operate without petroleum or grid electricity, and to enable small-holder farmers to work more efficiently and keep more of the profits from their labour. The technology invented for use in the industrialized world fills a significant gap: because of the dominance of huge-scale industrialized agriculture, there is at present a shortage – even a lack – of equipment that fits the needs and budgets of small-acreage farmers. The support which this technology provides for small farms will assist the shift towards local food and organic food, and the urgently-needed shift away from dependence on fossil fuels.
The book is, however, about much more than technology. It explores relations between the two “worlds” and the effects of climate change, peak oil, and the world-wide need to grow more food. It tells the story of the Full Belly Project, the small NGO based in Wilmington, North Carolina, that distributes and promotes Jock’s inventions.
And it reveals something about the process of invention itself: among other things, this book is the biography of an extremely and eccentrically creative person. E. F. Schumacher, the author of Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, might have been thinking of Jock Brandis when he wrote: “It is my experience that it is rather more difficult to recapture directness and simplicity than to advance in the direction of ever more sophistication and complexity. Any third-rate engineer or researcher can increase complexity; but it takes a certain flair of real insight to make things simple again.”
This is pre-eminently a book for anyone who reflects on the impact that “big” and “bigger” are having on our planet. (Brandis, 2011)
For information about the technology please seehttp://www.thefullbellyproject.org
Bill Brandis: A Green Old Age
In this chapbook celebrating her father’s 100th birthday, Marianne writes about his old age. Bill’s earlier life is dealt with in Frontiers and Sanctuaries: A Woman’s Life in Holland and Canada (see below): this memoir picks up the story and describes what Bill achieved in his next 26 years. As well as being of interest to the family, it’s a narrative about how one man designed a useful and creative life after retirement, and how he adapted to the changes that old age imposes on everyone. (Brandis, 2011)
Copies are available from Marianne Brandis – please see ‘Purchasing and ordering information.’
At This Point: a word suite in six movements
On 3 December 2009, Marianne Brandis and Susan Green, cellist and visual artist, presented an evening program of music, words, and paintings. Susan performed two of J. S. Bach’s suites for solo cello, and Marianne read an essay written specially for the occasion. The six paintings forming the backdrop, also by Susan, make up a suite titled “Drawing the Bow” and are based on the motion of the cellist’s bow.
This chapbook contains Marianne’s essay, which is a reflection on artistic creativity, both that of the individual artist and that of the human race. Inventively and evocatively, it enumerates all the strands that contributed to making that evening’s concert-and-reading possible. The book is illustrated with colour reproductions of the paintings and with nine line drawings which Susan created specifically for this publication. (Brandis and Green, 2010).
Frontiers and Sanctuaries: A Woman’s Life in Holland and Canada
The life of Madzy Brender à Brandis (1910-1984) - her experiences in war, as an immigrant and pioneer, wife and mother, writer and painter, and an invalid - exemplifies the challenges faced by women in the twentieth century and is also a thread in Dutch and Canadian history.
To create this vivid retelling of her mother's story, Marianne drew on Madzy's diaries, letters, newspaper columns, fiction, and historical works in English and Dutch. She deals with Madzy's upper-middle-class childhood and youth in Holland before World War II, her struggle to keep herself and her small children alive during the war, and her emigration to Canada with her family in 1947. In addition to describing Madzy's participation in historic events, Marianne also explores her mother's inner life.
Frontiers and Sanctuaries is most powerful in showing how Madzy's lively, creative temperament allowed her to adapt to a new language and culture, pioneer life, and crippling rheumatoid arthritis. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006.http://www.mqup.mcgill.ca/book.php?bookid=1959)
A 14-page chapbook self-published by the author, Singularity explores one woman’s experience of being single and alone, facing old age. Like all such reflections, it moves beyond its own subject and evokes echoes in other ways of living. (Brandis, 2000.)
This novel deals with the American invasion and occupation of York (Toronto) in 1813. The actual events and conditions, carefully researched, are shown through the eyes of an imaginary boy of thirteen. The book also explores how it feels to be an immigrant and to have divided loyalties. It is enjoyed by readers of all ages. (The Porcupine’s Quill, 1992.http://porcupinesquill.ca)