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.

Growing beetroot in straight lines will give you 'the superior self-worth of an established plotholder', says Emma

The plot thickens: It's time to get allotment fever

Beetroots and rocket and mustard leaves and radishes. If only I had the gumption to do it myself, says Emma Townshend

The thrifty ways of the Fifties are hard to shake off

Raise a frugal toast to modern puritanism

Arguments around fracking and HS2 presuppose consumer need. But a tide against materialism would cause bigger shockwaves still

TV review: Through the Keyhole: Who would work in a suit like this?

A long-gone, winning formula gets a revival – and the result is appallingly watchable

Rex FeaturesBank of Pa ’n’ Ma: Unlike in the time of the Waltons, above – possibly TV’s most famous multi-generation occupancy – many people buying their first home today have had help from parents

A three-in-one solution to the rising cost of buying a home

Having three generations under one roof can solve a host of problems, says Chiara Cavaglieri

The Big Six: Burmese beds

Silk drapes, Asian artwork, wooden chalets, luxury huts and private pagodas

Weekend work: Time to divide bearded irises

What to do

Belarus and Russia row over potash raises fear of a trade war

The prospect of a trade war between Russia and one of its neighbours loomed larger yesterday after Belarus ratcheted up the rhetoric against the Kremlin and hinted at further arrests of executives working for Russia's biggest fertiliser company.

Scientists have demonstrated that concerns over money can lower your IQ

Too broke to think straight? How money worries can dent your intelligence

People faced with unexpected bill perform worse than they would have done without the financial worry

Is this the last hurrah for modern bookish bigness?

The new Library of Birmingham ticks all the boxes as far as so-called landmark architecture is concerned. Designed by Mecanoo, a star international practice. Slightly wild façade. Even more dramatic central atrium, spiralling up through the building. And at the  pinnacle, a golden ark containing the city’s original 1882 Shakespeare archive room.

Where's the best place to take my family for a beach break in early autumn?

Q. I'm currently perusing holidays suitable for a family of five in mid-September: two adults, twins aged two and an eight-month-old baby. We are looking to travel independently to somewhere quiet and picturesque. A nice little beach is most important to us with safe accommodation close by. We went to Scarborough and loved it, but there is no guarantee we will get good weather. We want a flight no more than two hours with a short transfer. Name withheld, Sheffield

The smell of freshly baked bread can make a good impression on househunters

Make sure your house smells nice if you want to sell it

New survey also reveals the cosmetic flaws that potential buyers are most likely to be able to see past during a viewing

Marian Brudenell

Marian Brudenell: Admired chatelaine of Deene Park

When Michael Heseltine invited the All-Party Gardening Group to visit the arboretum and garden he had developed at his Northamptonshire home, he exclaimed to us, "No one in 150 years' time will care about what the deputy prime minister did or did not do in the 1990s. But they might ask themselves, 'Who created this garden?'"

Greater Manchester Police handout photo of Dale Cregan who is set to die in prison with a whole life sentence for murdering four people after his long-running trial came to an end today

Police-killer Dale Cregan goes on hunger strike

One-eyed police killer Dale Cregan has gone on hunger strike in an apparent bid to be moved to another prison.

The Weekend’s Viewing: British detective dramas come and go, but few are as creepily compelling as What Remains

What Remains, Sun, BBC1/ America’s Stoned Kids, Sat, BBC2

Book review: The Asylum, By John Harwood

“I am Miss Georgina Ferrars  of Gresham’s Yard, London. I am. I swear that I am. And I shall prove it.”

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on