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

Weekend work: Time to divide bearded irises

What to do

The Big Six: Burmese beds

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

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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Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
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Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
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Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
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Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
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BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
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Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little