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.

Reporter Tom Peck with the Titan Arum

What a pong! After a seven year wait, the world's smelliest 'flower' blooms in Cornwall

The Titan Arum is made up of hundreds of flowers and opens four times in its lifetime

Floral swimming cap by The Flower Appreciation Society

iStyle: Flower Power

Forget mastering the perfect buttercream, the fashion for floral arrangements is blooming, says Naomi Attwood

Weekend work: Time to plant dahlias

What to do

Supporters of Imran Khan at a rally in Karachi yesterday

Thousands gather to hear Imran Khan’s hospital bed election address

PTI supporters hope a late surge can lift former cricketer to win Saturday’s vote

A celebrity painted gnome by singer Sir Elton John, prior to being unveiled as part of the RHS centenary celebrations at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London

Welcome gnome: Kitsch garden ornaments are now
allowed in to the Chelsea Flower Show

Elton John is championing their rise to the world’s most famous flowerbeds

Weekend Work: Time to sow leaf lettuce

What to do

Latitude 2013: Five minutes with... Don Paterson

Dundonian poet Don Paterson graces this year's Latitude with his odes.

The 10 Best wedding cakes

Forget love and happiness - these multi-tier marvels are reason enough to get hitched this summer.

Ukip town councillor Peter Reeve is a volunteer loo cleaner for Ramsey's public toilets

As the UK gears up for the polls, what is life like in Britain's only Ukip-controlled town?

And can it clean up in the county elections? We ask councillor Peter Reeve, who volunteered to clean loos to save money for Ramsey

Weekend work: Time to split autumn perennials

What to do

Chic villas in Corfu

The Big Six: from clifftop locations to freshwater pools and rustic interiors

Feeling the heat in Kolkata

Although the temperatures are appetite-suppressing, Kolkata's food scene is legendary

Paulo di Canio celebrates as his side defeat Everton

Sunderland 1 Everton 0 match report: Stephane Sessègnon strike brings reward for Paulo Di Canio’s battlers

Stephane Sessegnon's second goal in a week handed Paolo Di Canio victory in his first home game as Sunderland eased themselves further clear of relegation trouble.

The 10 Best gardens to visit

What could be finer – now that the weather has improved – than a walk around some bucolic beds and borders?

Clean break: The long, cold winter has made my garden tidier than ever

Yes, we know it's been a long, cold winter. And to be quite frank, we're bored of hearing about it. But has any good come of it, asks Emma Townshend?

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Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
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A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border