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

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

Weekend work: Time to split autumn perennials

What to do

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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The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch