Car Park Life by Gareth E. Rees

Gareth E. Rees' study of the car park is part psychogeographical study, part autobiography, and part satire of contemporary Britain

Book Review by Eugenie Johnson | 22 Oct 2019
  • Car Park Life - Gareth E Rees
Book title: Car Park Life
Author: Gareth E. Rees

For the majority of us, car parks are areas of little note to quickly traverse before entering a supermarket, a DIY store, or an outlet centre. Yet for Gareth E. Rees they have held a particular fascination. As such, in his latest book, Car Park Life, Rees sets out to discover more about a series of retail car parks he visited between 2015 and 2018.

On the surface, this may seem like a tedious proposition; even Rees occasionally questions his own captivation. Yet Car Park Life isn’t at all dull, mostly due to Rees’ genre-spanning approach. It’s a semi-autobiographical work that often touches on the breakdown of Rees’ marriage, or a childhood pretending to be an astronaut in a Makro car park; such reflections offer occasionally tender moments. 

At the same time, it’s a psychogeographical exploration, mapping everyday behaviours as well as drug dealing and dogging. Here, Rees laces his words with sometimes satirical wit. He notes that herbivorous Iguanodons – alluded to outside an Asda – are perfect prehistoric cyphers for contemporary Britain, procrastinates on the suggestion to “experience the joy of 7,000 free parking spaces”, and posits that building a Harvester named after the Amesbury Archer is “as he would have wished.”

With Car Park Life, Rees manages to breathe life into these otherwise utilitarian non-spaces. It may just make you momentarily pause to think the next time you park.

Influx Press, Out Now, £9.99