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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before