Book review: Dissident Gardens, by Jonathan Lethem

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.

Wild Target: Washington DC’s Rock Creek Park has four times as many deer as it can cope with, say authorities

The deerhunter returns to Washington

The rose gardens and parks of the US capital are under attack and only lethal force can save them from the doe-eyed assailants

Freddie Burns is set to play for England Saxons against the Irish Wolfhounds

Six Nations 2014: Heineken Cup rigours threaten to derail England preparations

The waiting is the hardest part. Thirty-five players, led by the reappointed national captain Chris Robshaw, will arrive in the England camp between Sunday evening and Monday morning as attention switches from the Heineken Cup – or rather, what is left of the Heineken Cup – to the Six Nations, which begins in a fortnight's time. How many will be in a condition to train before the middle of next week at the earliest? Not as many as the head coach, Stuart Lancaster, would like, almost certainly.

Dissident Gardens, By Jonathan Lethem: Book review - insightful look at radical politics in New York

Music looms large for Jonathan Lethem. In the past, citing Walter Pater's dictum that "all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music", he has said that he tries to make his prose "as musical as I can".

The pope has a lamb put around his neck by a woman dressed as a character from the nativity scene at Church of St Alfonso Maria dei Liguori in the outskirts of Rome

Pope visits Nativity re-enactment

Maybe it worked? 'Cops off campus' demo passes off peacefully

Barely a police officer in sight as 2,000 student protesters take to London's streets

Robert Mugabe redistributed land from 6,000 white farmers to 245,000 black farmers

Thank you, Mr Mugabe: Zimbabwe’s forced land redistribution led to huge controversy - but it has transformed the lives of thousands of small farmers

The tobacco industry is no longer marked by the pattern of large, white-owned farms, which have been seized and resettled

Pretty in pink: Give a rosy glow to the lips, cheeks or eyelids

(Clockwise from top) 1. Fall in Rose Lipstick, £21, lancome.co.uk

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England vs Australia ODI: Anything is possible for Jos Buttler the fearless

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Weekend work: Time to prune climbing roses

What to do

Northop College (Formerly Welsh College of Horticulture)

History: Founded in 1954, as the Flintshire Institute of Horticulture. Merged with Deeside College and transferred Higher Education provision to Glyndwr University in 2009. Formerly known as the Welsh College of Horticulture.

Andy Murray and heatwave give retailers summer lift

Retailers enjoyed their best July for seven years after the heatwave drove scorching sales of barbecue food, summer clothing and outdoor furniture in a “golden month”.

Long or short, use the summer holidays to get kids playing outside

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, over the last couple of decades the children have disappeared from our streets

Tom Sharpe arrived in Dorset shortly after the publication of Wilt, settling in a house on the edge of Bridport

In brief: Tom Sharpe

Tom Sharpe (obituary, 7 June) arrived in Dorset shortly after the publication of Wilt, settling in a house on the edge of Bridport.

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