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

Jos Buttler hits out against Australia in Cardiff

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

Series still to play for after another thrilling innings from England’s fastest run-maker

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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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
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
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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
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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
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
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Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried