Arts and Entertainment

The idea of The Great American Novel feels like an albatross around the neck of that country’s literature. Sooner or later every white middle-class male writer with any kind of reputation feels obliged to have a stab at it, usually with limited success. Eventually they think it’s time to pack away all the fun stuff like storytelling, energy and plot, and make some big state-of-the-nation address, telling people exactly how things stand in the good ol’ US of A. Interestingly, America’s women writers don’t tend to feel the obligation to grandstand so strongly, and their novels are usually all the better for that.

Six Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

Important new discoveries about Van Gogh's 'unknown' Sunflower paintings revealed

An expert on Vincent van Gogh has tracked down two “unknown” Sunflowers, and has revealed an image of the work destroyed in the Second World War never seen outside Japan.

Portugal's Ria Formosa: Spot the exotic visitors as they fly in

Birds and planes are major features of the Ria Formosa. Sophie Lam takes to the water to explore this extraordinary lagoon

Weekend work: Time to divide bearded irises

What to do

Put some cream on it - that'll make it better! Hospital's own brand of moisturiser goes on sale to remedy funding gap

Trust managers are confident they can sell 20,000-30,000 bottles required to make profit

Hungry bumblebees travel more than a mile to find food

Honey, I’m just popping out for some pollen. I may bee some time...

Insect forced to travel more than a mile to find food, study finds

Review: Plants Vs Zombies 2

David Phelan explores the world of zombies, explosive potatoes and in-app purchases

Review: Plants Vs Zombies 2

David Phelan explores the world of zombies, explosive potatoes and in-app purchases

Weekend work: Time to re-pot cyclamen corms

What to do

Great works: Onions (1881) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Kimbell Art Museum, Texas

Weekend work: Time to prune climbing roses

What to do

The Welsh dragon: rare tree returns to the Valleys

A tree facing extinction in its native Canary Islands has flowered in Wales for the first time in 25 years.

Andy Murray and heatwave give retailers summer lift

Retailers enjoyed their best July for seven years after the heatwave drove scorching sales of barbecue food, summer clothing and outdoor furniture in a “golden month”.

The 10 Best oils and serums

Learn the true meaning of beauty sleep with a selection of nourishing  and rejuvenating overnight products

Council hunts cannabis cultivating culprits after Newport plant pots display planted pot

By the time the police had been informed the plants had already been harvested

Anna Pavord's A to Z of pests and problems: N is for neighbours, nettles and nutrient deficiency

Our green-fingered correspondent Anna Pavord continues her A-Z of horticultural pests and problems standing between you and your perfect garden

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General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'