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The Gar Diaries is an unforgettably unique and timeless memoir which will surely come to be ranked as an American classic.

The Gar Diaries By Louis E. Bourgeois

Gar_diaries-smSet in southern Louisiana in the 1970s, it tells the story of boy-child Lucas Jeanfreaux through creative snap-shot diary entries and flashbacks. Taking place over a time span of 30 years, it sees Lucas move from a four-year-old boy with his earliest memories, through his adolescent years and into a cynical, mature man on the cusp of fame. A key thread of the book is how he tries to re-invent himself through poetry after losing an arm. The prose slowly allows his tragic life to unfold and emerge, drawing readers both to particularly important moments and characters that shaped it and the social circumstances that constrained it.

Central to the book’s appeal is its sense of place and social set-up. The life Lucas grows up in is a Louisiana of marshy bayous and polluted canals. It depicts a troubled working-class community full of hardship, raw poverty and misery.

Indeed, the book’s title is symbolic of the sort of hand-to-mouth existence that prevailed. The ‘gar’ was and is considered a trash fish, caught among the poor and working classes, such as Lucas’s father. One of Lucas’s earliest memories is being terrified of one of the dead beasts. In a similar vein, the book also covers crabbing and shrimping, can collecting and cockroach eating. It’s a world where rabid dogs run in the street, and children swim in dirty ditches. It also shows a universe where men routinely beat their wives and take drugs in front of their children. The poverty is raw – so too the inequality, disability, substance abuse and broken family life.

Much of the content is troubling, dark and disturbing and leaves you wondering how anyone could have survived it unscathed. Indeed, the book is largely about wounds—emotional, psychological and physical—and whether it is ever possible for them to heal. Most importantly, this book is about being an outcast, and survival.

It is far from all bleak, however. Much of the book is warm, bringing real life to the people and landscape that is Louisiana. The prose is hauntingly beautiful—evocative, poetic and brutal at the same time. Indeed, author Louis E. Bourgeois initially intended the book to be a poem, but then the narrative took over. With much of it told through a child’s eye, it is often full of refreshingly simple and vivid detail: “We ate popcorn from heated tin plates, drank hot root beer from yellow cans, and sang Christmas songs even though it was early September.”

Containing plenty of good and evil, this is truly an original classic with powerful imagery. It will forever be associated with Louisiana and will re-shape a reader’s perception of the southern state. It will also stay in the reader’s mind for years to come.

The Gar Diaries By Louis E. Bourgeois is available now, published by The Other Publishing Company. Visit:

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Spanish literary sensation Pablo Solares Acebal pens English-Language translation of acclaimed novella ahead of film adaptation

The 6th of November weaves fragments of history, magic realism and human drama to tell an intimate, haunting tale of love, family and conflict set within the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War.

pablosolaresfcThe6thNovember_jktPablo Solares Acebal, hailed as one of Spain’s most promising new authors, has published an English-language translation of his acclaimed period novella, The 6th of November.

Set during the horrors of the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939), The 6th of November is a unique work of intelligent literary fiction that is part historical drama, part mystery and part psychological/paranormal horror.

In 1935, 17-year-old Gloria Juarez elopes with her husband Rulfo to the village of Requejado in Northern Spain, where his family run a farm.

The couple have a daughter, Maria, but when the war between loyalists and nationalists erupt, they are caught in the middle of the chaos and both Ruflo and Maria vanish without trace.

Three years later, on the 6th of November, an unexpected guest arrives to help a desparing Gloira discover the truth about her family’s disappearance. What she uncovers about the shameful events of those dark times in Requejado, however, will haunt her, and the reader, forever.

Dealing with themes of love and death, morality and mortality, and playing with perspectives and the line between reality and fantasy, The 6th of November is a lyrical and occasionally poetic work that resists easy definition or answers and challenges its audience to draw their own conclusions.

quoteInspired by the terrors and uncertainties of the Spanish Civil War more than any specific actual event, it weaves a complex yet flowing plot with narrator, dying town priest Don Paco, trying to reconstruct a hidden past from fragments of memories and conversations, confidences and conjectures.

The original version of the book, 6 De Noviembre  — named after the national remembrance day for victims of the Spanish Civil War — was published through Spanish imprint Albores in 2012.

Released in Spain and South America to critical acclaim, the book has now been optioned as a Spanish-language motion picture, with the cameras set to role this summer.

Production company Bbaeda Films is bankrolling the film, with Daniel Cabrero —  an assistant director on 2006 Spanish-American production Goya’s Ghosts, starring Natalie Portman and Javier Bardem — directing.

Remarkably, author Pablo Solares Acebal is just 21 years old and still in full-time education, studying for a degree in English Studies and Translation at the University of Oviedo.

The young writer — who lists late Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez and Virginia Woolf among his inspirations — has received praise for the originality of his narrative style, which effectively blends realism, magic realism and modernist techniques.

The novella’s haunting and dream-like atmosphere, where ghosts can commune with the living and things may not be quite as they seem, has already drawn comparisons to masterpieces such as Márquez’s 100 Years of Solitude and Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo.

The mystery at the heart of the story builds from the first page towards a compelling yet horrifying conclusion of shocking truths, sickening revelations and unforgivable war-time atrocities and that will stay with the reader long after the final page.


ABOUT PABLO SOLARES ACEBAL: Born in Villaviciosa, Spain, in 1992, Pablo Solares Acebal is the critically-acclaimed author of The 6th of November. Written during a two-year period soon after the loss of his mother, it was picked up by Spanish publisher Albores when he was just 18. Published in Spain and across South America in 2012, The 6th of November received immediate critical acclaim. A film version, directed by Daniel Cabrero, is now in the works, set for release on November 6, 2015. Despite working towards a degree in English Studies and Translation from the University of Oviedo, Acebal, 21, has found time to pen an English-language adaptation of his debut work, as well as a second novel, Explosión En El Corazón Del Diablo’ (‘Devil’s Home’), published in Spanish in 2013. He is based in Oviedo, Spain.

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PropertyTycoon_Ian Samuels_jktGONE are the days when a home was simply about having somewhere to lay your head. With the UK showing a seemingly unstoppable housing boom, with prices rising an average of nine per cent over the past 60 years, property is increasingly about maximizing financial gain.

In Property Tycoon: A Simple Seven-step Guide to Becoming a Property Millionaire, author Ian Samuels offers a completely up-to-date and exceptionally revealing guide to the ins and outs of property investment.

Whether you’re looking to dip into buy-to-let, wish to build up a substantial portfolio to secure your financial future, or simply want to minimize risk, Property Tycoon has the answers.

In his book, which is easy to understand, entertaining and filled with real-life case studies, Ian covers buying, managing, maintaining, financing and selling UK property.

Specifically, he reveals…

* HOW to secure capital for your investment properties

* WHERE to get tradesmen, agents, mentors & tenants you can rely on

* WHAT it takes to manage & maintain different kinds of property portfolio

* HOW to take your portfolio to the next level when the time is right

* WHEN to buy and sell, and how to make sure you get your way in auctions and off-plan deals (when you buy a property at current prices which isn’t yet completed)

Author Ian Samuels is an expert in property investment – having made a huge success of buy-to-let schemes over the past 20 years, surviving two periods of boom and bust.

Originally from Dublin, he is now based in Manchester, where he runs a company, The Property Investor, which advises others interested in achieving financial freedom through property investment.

An avid student of business, philosophy, sales, economics and human behaviour, he believes that with the right approach anyone can make a living from investing in property.

Samuels says that the UK property market is currently enjoying a “golden age” and it is vital to act now  to secure long-term returns. He said: “Now is the time to get on the property investment ladder as prices  will never be this low again. Property Tycoon is the complete step-by-step guide to doing this.”

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Emmy-Award winning director Alvin Rakoff pens clone-themed thriller The Seven Einsteins

From the pen of acclaimed writer, director and producer Alvin Rakoff — credited with starting the careers of actors Sir Sean Connery and Alan Rickman — comes a gripping new thriller about a secret plot to clone not one but seven Albert Einsteins.

The Seven Einsteins is a classic page-turner, offering an action-packed, contemporary tale of conspiracy theories, the misuse of power and science gone mad.

TheSevenEinsteinsIn 1967 the President of the United States gives geneticists the green light to begin a new, top secret project: The Einstein Experiment. Four decades later, with the experiment reaching its end, all bar one of the original scientists involved have been mysteriously killed.

On his deathbed, the team’s sole survivor, Professor Timothy Laenker, reveals the shocking truth about the project to his estranged daughter, Cynthia: the DNA of Albert Einstein, the world’s most famous scientist, was used to create seven clones. The babies were scattered across the planet, given to foster parents in London, Manhattan, Nebraska, Rome, Beverly Hills, Brooklyn and Berlin, and raised unaware of their unique background and ultimate purpose.

Cynthia, like her father a brilliant geneticist, sets out to make contact with the clones and warn them that their lives may be in mortal danger, but finds herself being pursued by shady Government operatives who will stop at nothing to prevent her interference. “Kill her first. Apologize later” is the order.

As the now-mature clones are summoned to Washington for a planned reveal by the US Government, anxious to reinforce its leadership in genetic reproduction, the killing spree ramps up in intensity. Will Cynthia and her young daughter survive the carnage, and what will become of the young Einstein she has tragically fallen in love with? Will he become merely a pawn in a bigger political game, or will the politicians themselves find the greatest intellect of all time too powerful to control?

A modern take on the age-old argument of nature versus nurture, The Seven Einsteins uses an inspired hook to explore the ancient conflict between genetic inheritance and social inheritance. Motivated by the latest advancements in genetics, Rakoff asks do people become who they are because of what they inherit or because of what happens to them in life, and examines the ethics of science as the prospect of human cloning edges ever nearer to reality.

Now aged 87, Rakoff has enjoyed a celebrated career spanning more than 60 years, directing more than 100 television plays, as well as a dozen feature films and numerous stage productions.

A twice winner of the International Emmy Award, he gave Sean Connery and Alan Rickman their big breaks, and has worked with acting legends including Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasence, Peter Sellers, Kenneth More and Alan Bates.

The Seven Einsteins is Rakoff’s third novel. Still heavily involved in the film industry, the author is currently in talks to bring the book to the big screen.

Speaking about the novel’s premise, Rakoff said: “After talking with my daughter, a doctor of physiology, we agreed that science, especially genetics, is too often mystified in the public’s mind. From that conversation came the idea for The Seven Einsteins. It plays on our fears over advancements in cloning and our right to know where science is leading us, and throws in conspiracy theories, secret Government agencies and a rising body count for good measure.”

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Lovereading poll reveals chaos of home libraries

Where did I put that book?

Lovereading poll reveals chaos of home libraries

As World Book Night (23 April) showed recommending books to friends is one of the best ways to discover new books but a recent poll by indicates that nearly 40% of us store our books at home ‘totally randomly’ so actually being able to find the book to lend to your friend is another thing entirely!

Reassuringly in second place with 35% of the vote was ‘alphabetically by author’ – but worryingly the 3rd favourite ‘By Size’ clearly shows the influence of all those ‘how to sell your home’ shows.

The thriller author Tom Rob Smith (Child 44 and The Farm) looks to be in a universe of one with his colour coded book shelves as not one of the poll responders used that approach.

Peter Crawshaw Co-Founder and Director of Lovereading said – ‘I think it’s linked to our dependence on computers where filing no longer really matters as search systems are so good. It equally could be that we are just inherently lazy!’

Full poll result is shown below.

Question: How do you organise your books at home?

Alphabetically by Author 35%

Alphabetically by Title 2%

Alphabetically by Genre 4%

By Size 13%

By Colour 0%

Totally random 39%

Other – do please email  6%


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Two-thirds of Britons are relying on a “dream” cash windfall to clear personal debt, new research shows. Two-in-three people believe they will land a major pay rise, win the lottery, make a fortune at the bookies, or inherit enough money to wipe the financial slate clean at some point in the future. The majority freely admit that the likelihood of actually netting a large amount of cash unexpectedly is “improbable”.

ddnardfccompassofnownew_smBut most continue to borrow or live beyond their means on the assumption that “the biggie”, when it comes in, will pay-off all outstanding loans, overdraft and credit card debt in one fell swoop. Less than half of those in debt have sought professional advice about debt consolidation schemes or other repayment options, with the majority relying on non-qualified friends and family for guidance.

The poll of nearly 1,000 adults was conducted by the personal debt expert DDnard (corr), as part of an ongoing international study into borrowing behaviour.

D. Dnard, a Thai author whose self-help books on the subject have sold over 1.4million copies worldwide, describes those dreaming of a windfall as ‘flying ostriches’.

“It is clear that some borrowers either have their heads in the sand, or their heads in the clouds. Many do both,” she said. “They either shy away from reality in the hope that it goes away, or they daydream about extraordinary ways in which it will be paid on their behalf. “The sad fact is that, for most people at least, cash windfalls never materialise and those in debt must face the music and tackle the issue head-on. This is the only way to reduce personal debt and have a guaranteed debt-free future.”

Of the 921 adults questioned, 68 per cent said they were relying on an unexpected windfall. Of those, 19 per cent were hoping for a “major pay rise”, 13 per cent were counting on winning the lottery (13 per cent), and five percent were praying for a good streak at the races. The majority were hoping for an inheritance (56 per cent), while seven per cent were reliant on the sale of their house of other valuable asset).

Less than a quarter (21 per cent) genuinely believed a windfall was probable, with 28 per cent and 51 per cent admitting it was either “possible” or “improbable” respectively. Some 13 per cent said had not obtained professional advice because they were “unsure who to ask”, while the majority (48 per cent) seek financial advice from friends or family.

Only 39 per cent of those who were “struggling” with unsecured debt had sought professional advice from a bank or third party expert.

Food, school clothing, utility bills and other basic necessities accounted for 38 per cent of respondents’ debt.

But the remainder went into the red by purchasing “non-essentials” like expensive presents and home improvements, and by buying “extravagances” such as new cars and family holidays.

In total, 59 per cent admitted they could improve the way they handle money to avoid debt in the future. Almost the same number (41 per cent) said the cost of living is so high that personal debt is “all but unavoidable from time to time”.

The straw poll found that the overwhelming majority (56 per cent) of respondents blamed the ease at which they could obtain additional credit cards, overdrafts and loans had contributed to the problem.

Others blamed the pressure of living in a “must-have” consumerist environment (16 per cent), the “buy now, worry later” mentality of peers or family (19 per cent), the desire to “live like a celebrity” (six per cent), and even the belief that buying things “made me happy” (three per cent).

Author and personal finance expert DDNard clawed her way back from a £2million debt following the unexpected death of her husband, a diamond magnate.

The self-help guru, whose new book The Compass of Now has just been released in the UK, said overcoming a mountain of debt isn’t easy, but that can be achieved by taking “one small step at a time”.

“This generally begins by accepting that you have a problem, or that one looks set to arise,” she said. “Once you are able to fully acknowledge a potentially problematic situation, you are better prepared to go about reversing it.

“The golden rule with debt, however small or large it might be, is not to bury your head in the sand and rely on a miracle – or a million-pound cash windfall. Seek expert advice and take matters into your own capable hands.”

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New guide reveals how to stay on top of pressure, rather than letting pressure get on top of you

In today’s hectic workspace, constant pressure is now the norm. The impact on employees’ health and productivity are only too clear, with over 70 per cent of all GP visits now being stress-related.

bhfcPoweringThroughPressure_smWork is cited as the single biggest contributor to feelings of stress and pressure, yet professionals feel obliged to carry on regardless, fearing tarnishing their reputation and jeopardising their position if they admit the pressure is getting to them.

And despite the UK having emerged from recession, the working conditions that contribute most to stress continue to pervade the business world and, if anything, get worse. The constant expectation of perfection; competitive work environments; tightening budgets and smaller workforces yet increasing demands; the growth of remote working; the rise of digital communication, and the need to be in touch by email and online 24-7 combine to create a recipe for disaster.

But, as leading stress management expert Bruce Hoverd explains, professionals CAN lead a stress-free life — all by making some easy adjustments to their daily routine.

In Powering Through Pressure: Building resilience for when work gets tough — newly released by Pearson, the world’s leading educational publisher — Hoverd provides the most up-to-date, relevant and motivational stress management book available.

Writing in an accessible, friendly and inspirational tone, he shows how to spot pressure points before they become breaking points, and reveals simple yet powerful steps to prevent stress, reduce demands, retain energy and, most importantly, remain healthy.

The author — a fellow of the Institute of Stress Management whose London-based consultancy “Managing Pressure” has supported thousands of executives at all levels — has brought together his extensive training and vast client-facing experience to provide a wide range of practical stress-busting solutions that allow you to

  • Take control of stress with immediate effect and make pressure work for you
  • Quickly and effectively deal with the underlying causes of pressure
  • Increase awareness of the signs of growing pressure, and act early to avert it
  • Increase productivity, improve self-confidence and co-worker relationships
  • Build support networks and negotiate effectively to reduce demands
  • improve resilience skills and focus
  • Foster a calmer, healthier approach to work, and life

The 240-page handbook is the perfect answer to pressure, allowing professionals to deal with the problem in their own time — essential given that many view approaching employers as a big no-no, and finding time to go to doctors is often impossible.

Speaking about the book, Hoverd said: “I want to create the means by which as many people as possible take those early actions that will reduce pressure and prevent the common decline into unnecessary stress. Breaking the unhealthy stress cycle is possible. The good news is that, by increasing your awareness, responding early and maintaining small changes, you can lead a stress-free life. It’s about the choices you make, the options you explore and the support you are willing to give and seek.”

After reading Powering Through Pressure, executives will have both the tools and mindset to win against pressure in and out of the workplace.

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Bed loving Bookworms – is this why reading makes you more intelligent?

Perhaps the reason for the often cited adage that ‘reading makes you more intelligent’ has been answered and it is simply down to bookworms getting more sleep.

reading in bedIn a recent mini poll the over-whelmingly most popular place to read was ‘’in bed at night’. A Sussex University study in 2009 showed that reading a book before you sleep will de-stress you and removing stress before you sleep is the best way to get a great night’s shut-eye. Add to that some more recent research from a study in The Journal of Neuroscience that demonstrated sleep deprived mice lost 25% of certain brain cells, then perhaps Doctors should be prescribing a book rather than sleeping pills to cope with the increasing amounts of insomnia!

The Lovereading Survey was looking for the most popular place to read from a list of 7 options and over 60% of the respondents said that reading ‘in bed at night’ was their favourite place to read. The next most popular was ‘relaxing at the weekend’ with 15% of the vote.

1. To and from work (6%)

2. In bed at night (61%)

3. In bed in the morning (7%)

4. In the bath (7%)

5. Lunchtime at work (3%)

6. Relaxing at the weekend (15%)

7. Somewhere more exotic (1%)

Peter Crawhaw, Director and Co-founder of said ‘perhaps now people will make time for 15 minutes of reading before they go to sleep – and frankly it is the easiest and best medicine I can think of.’

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Going going Gone Girl… Is ‘Chick Noir’ becoming the new ‘Chick Lit’?

For Lovereading by author Lucy Atkins

lucy-atkins_300At last week’s Oxford Literary Festival I took the stage with writer and columnist India Knight to discuss publishing’s latest phenomenon: ‘Chick noir (Why Gone Girl has us hooked)’.

The event was a sell-out. ‘Chick Noir’ may be a ridiculous label for psychological suspense novels marketed heavily at women, but something is definitely going on here  – and the audience wanted to know why.

Unsettling novels like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, SJ Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep, The Silent Wife by A S A Harrison, The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty or Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard are currently dominating the bestseller charts. The movie of Gone Girl, about lies and danger in a marriage, will be released this October, starring Ben Affleck and Rosalind Pike. Before I Go To Sleep, about a wife suffering scary memory loss, is also currently being made into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. ‘Chick Noir’ in other words, is big business.  My own novel, The Missing One, about a mother’s secrets and a toddler in jeopardy, hit the UK paperback fiction bestseller chart at number 11  – pretty unusual for a non-celebrity debut, and this week one publisher, Mantle, shelled out a six figure sum for a suspense novel about a toxic marriage by the relatively unknown writer Rebecca Whitney.

Instead of serial killers and dismembered corpses, these books place the threat firmly inside the home, with disintegrating marriages, sinister spouses, threatened children, and dark emotional secrets. And the good ones have it all – suspense, intelligent plotting, great writing, deep emotion, with no soft-focus endings. Like popular ‘Nordic Noir’ TV shows (The Killing, or The Bridge) they also have tough, clever, resourceful female characters.

It’s possible that all this is reflecting a deeper unease in society. With our smartphones pumping atrocities and terrorist threats into our homes 24/7, along with the soaring divorce rate and a global recession, perhaps nothing really feels safe any more… Or maybe it’s just that we love to be scared – from the safety of our sofa.


THE-MISSING-ONE-400Whatever the reason, one thing’s clear: ‘Chick noir’ is a daft label. These are intelligent and well-written books: Gone Girl was even shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize. Many readers are male, and as for the ‘chick’ bit, SJ Watson, is – whisper it – a man. It’s also a trend with impressive origins: think Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, or Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

The Oxford literary festival audience agreed that – call it what you will  – this reading trend is great news: it shows there’s a huge hunger for powerful books with great plots (Gone Girl has so far sold 2 million copies world-wide).  Whoever said books are dead?

Lucy Atkins is the author of The Missing One (Quercus, 2014)

Twitter: @lucyatkins


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Britain’s towns and cities are in danger of becoming “bland, homogenous metropolises” by the year 2029, one of the world’s leading experts warned yesterday. Historic parts of London, Manchester and Bristol, among others, could be overrun with “identikit” shopping centres, office towers and sprawling “analogous housing estates”.

living-in-wonderland-coverMedieval architecture and iconic landmarks are at risk of being “ensnared” by cheap and tasteless architecture as uninspired, cost-cutting developers resort to “one-stop” solutions to the built environment.

The nation could lose its “quintessential Britishness” and begin to resemble the emerging cities of China and India within just 15 years unless urgent steps are taken to avoid the “collision course with mediocrity”, the renowned placemaker David Twohig claims.

Twohig, the head of design at the Battersea Power Station Development Company, one of the most high-profile urban regeneration projects of the century, makes the daunting predictions in his new book Living in Wonderland: Urban Development and Placemaking, which hits the shelves this week. He argues that the “clone crisis” has the potential of affecting people’s health, wellbeing and general happiness. The global phenomena could also harm foreign investment and economic success by “subduing a city’s unique identity”, Twohig claims.

“Over the next 15 years China is set to urbanise 300 million people and build the equivalent urban area of North America,” he said yesterday. “London alone is set to grow by two million people by 2030. This is the greatest period of urbanisation in human history and yet the buildings and places we are designing and developing leave a great deal to be desired.”

According to the World Health Organisation, the world’s population is set to rise to 6.4billion by 2050. This will create unprecedented demand for housing in the UK and internationally.

Twohig warns that such high levels of urban growth may encourage designers and developers to opt for cheaper “lowest-common-denominator solutions”. Housing, offices and shops “from Dubai to Shanghai to London” are already “becoming identical”. At the current rate of growth, “soulless architecture” will transform the look and feel of Britain’s cities by the end of the late 2020s.

“The prospect of hundreds of millions of people ending up in nondescript developments without a sense of identity will lead to future social problems: alienation, isolation, crime and more,” Twohig warns.

“It will also have economic repercussions. Local businesses are vital for injecting money into a community and attracting visitors, while bland developments will rapidly depreciate in resale value and discourage future investment.

dubaipalm_sm“We are all moving in the direction of a default life; a sort of Zara- wearing model, living in a glass tower, eating Whole Foods, drinking in Starbucks and watching our local version of the X-Factor.

“There is already concern with the rise of so-called ‘clone towns’ in the UK, but the problem is far bigger than this. We are heading towards a clone world. When did life become so generic?”

Twohig spent two years researching his book by visiting some of the world’s most successful developments and by identifying “dismal cities” and many “dramatic, large-scale mistakes”.

He argues that quality, uplifting architecture needn’t be expensive and that it would create new districts that residents would be proud of for future generations.

“I am not condemning this form of architecture, for which there is an obvious demand, but rather encouraging more considered thinking in an attempt to fuse money-driven design with an engaging and culturally led public realm.

“My hope is that anyone interested in creating the world of tomorrow will be better equipped to make outstandingly liveable cities.”

Find out more by reading the book Living in Wonderland: Urban Development and Placemaking by David Twohig.


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