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.

Man hit by train while trying to flee from police

A man has died after he was hit by a train while trying to flee from police in north-west London.

The Villa di Colonnata, which inspired Pinocchio author Carlo Collodi, is on the market for £8.8m

Pinocchio villa for sale at £8.8m near Florence

The house's gardens feature in Carlo Collodi's 'The Adventures of Pinocchio'

Man jailed for 20 weeks after trying to kill his neighbours’ cat

Karl Dyke had the pet in a noose and ‘moments from death’ when its owners intervened

How many trees have to fall before local councils see their significance?

The year turns inward now. The darkening dusks, the long shadows and the endless leaf-clearing leave few appealing opportunities for gardeners engaging in outdoor work.

A worker at the facility with a handful of fertiliser pellets that it produces

Come, friendly bombs, don’t fall on Slough. It’s doing good for humans now: Berkshire town to launch £2m nutrient-recovery reactor

Once mocked by Sir John Betjeman and Ricky Gervais, the town is now home to a unique machine that is turning sewage into high-grade phosphorous fertiliser - and could hold the key to securing future global food supplies

South Korean President Park Geun-hye is accompanied by Prince Philip at Horse Guards Parade in London

South Korea refuses to forgive Japan’s wartime atrocities

World Focus: In South Korea a sense of vulnerability bred from past humiliations lies just below the surface

So what’s it like to be mugged? Now I know

An arm snaked over my shoulder. My phone was in the palm of my hand…

Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay has been given a vote of confidence from owner Vincent Tan

Malky Mackay to seek assurances over Cardiff City future in meeting with Vincent Tan later today

The Bluebirds manager has had his future thrown into doubt after Tan dismissed Iain Moody to replace him with his son's friend Alisher Apsalyamov

Amana from heaven: Emma Townshend reveals her favourites from the spring seed catalogues

So my aunty was on Facebook last night going on about how Sarah Raven had sucked her in and taken all her money again. OK, you think this might be an exaggeration. But what she actually said was, "Oh Sarah Raven, how you tempt me with your plant porn. In goes a big seed'n'bulb order. Yes." (As a fully paid-up and practising member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, she – Ms Judy Astley – can get away with this kind of saucy stuff.)

Weekend work: Time to cut back herbaceous perennials

What to do

Still going strong: With the warm air and moist ground, autumn gardens can provide the finest spread of all

The rich, still days that we so often get in the first half of October can provide the best conditions of the year, says Anna Pavord

Spider on a pillow is among non-emergency calls to firefighters

London Fire Brigade has revealed some of the strangest requests their control room has received recently

Two sets of human remains discovered in Nottinghamshire garden

The remains of two people have been found in a garden, police have confirmed.

The kitchen in the 4 bedroom semi detached house for sale at Walney Road, Heworth Village, York. On with Ashtons for £325,000

The kitchen is now the most valuable room in the house

UK homeowners have spent £413 on kitchen gadgets in the past year

Don't let skills of the elderly go to waste

We would view it as a tragedy if young people were left to languish

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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...