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R. Clifton Spargo
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R. Clifton Spargo is a novelist and critic whose most recent book is the novel Beautiful Fools, The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. For more on his work, visit his author's page on Facebook.

Entries by R. Clifton Spargo

The Dangerous Math of Ethan Canin

(0) Comments | Posted February 26, 2016 | 1:40 PM

It's been eight years since his last novel, and Ethan Canin has returned with the dazzlingly ambitious A Doubter's Almanac, which is one part intellectual thriller, one part domestic saga. At the center of the novel is Milo Andret, a brilliant mathematician who proves something called the Malosz conjecture (Canin...

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One Woman's Struggles With Fertility, Adoption and Grief

(0) Comments | Posted February 14, 2014 | 12:47 PM

All the world's a stage. In our lives we play many parts, like actors on the stage. A rather famous playwright once said as much. What happens, though, when you gather the many parts of one woman's life, staging them for all to see in a single one-hour performance?


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Forever Stamped on Our Memory: Janis Joplin

(4) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 2:50 PM

Janis Joplin sang old-soul blues in a raspy voice that slithered and surged effortlessly yet precisely through folk, through jazz, through psychedelic rock. She should have been turning 71 this weekend, approaching the age of old souls. She should still be crooning swamp blues in some dive bar just over...

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The 12 Weirdest Stories of Christmas

(4) Comments | Posted December 18, 2013 | 11:25 AM

Tired of encountering the same old story over and over again, as if it were the only literary tale ever written about the holidays? The one about the overbearing capitalist whose heart says "Bah! Humbug!" to charity, whose entire being can just barely stomach the idea of giving an employee...

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An Espionage Thriller Set in World War I Era: An Interview with Pulitzer Prize-Winner Robert Olen Butler on His New Novel The Star of Istanbul

(0) Comments | Posted November 26, 2013 | 9:31 PM

Robert Olen Butler reprises his hardboiled protagonist Kit Cobb from last year's novel The Hot Country for his new espionage gem, The Star of Istanbul (2013). The Pulitzer Prize-winning author has previously cannibalized everything from sci-fi to romance, but lately he's become obsessed by the thriller. Kit Cobb,...

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A New Jazz Age? Jazz Legend Ramsey Lewis On The Great Gatsby Soundtrack, Hip Hop, And The Future Of Jazz

(2) Comments | Posted June 30, 2013 | 8:55 AM

When I published my debut novel last month -- Beautiful Fools, The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald -- I suddenly found myself included in a trend. This year has seen a new wave of interest in all things Fitzgerald, thanks in large part to filmmaker Baz...

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Scenes From a Marriage: 12 Things You Didn't Know About F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2013 | 3:27 PM

Why does the magic endure? Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, those star-crossed celebrities of the Jazz Age, still appeal to our collective imagination some 90 years after the peak of their fame. In the roaring 1920s, she was the quintessential flapper, and he America's bright new literary star, their names synonymous...

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Why Every American Should Read The Great Gatsby, Again

(139) Comments | Posted April 9, 2013 | 6:39 PM

You have to read it again.

If, like most of high school-educated America, you read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in some long ago class under orders from a teacher, you owe it to yourself to revisit this strange American fable -- now that you're wiser for the...

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The Illuminator: Helen Benedict and the Journalistic Investigation That Inspired The Invisible War

(1) Comments | Posted April 3, 2013 | 2:44 PM

The 2012 film The Invisible War -- a nominee for best documentary feature at this year's Academy Awards -- has received wide acclaim. But where did the filmmakers get the idea to investigate military-based sexual violence? Recently, I reached out to Helen Benedict, author of a groundbreaking

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A Day for Beautiful and Not-So-Beautiful Fools: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Practical Joker

(2) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 11:15 AM

It's April Fools' Day, so it seems somehow fitting to note that the title of my new novel, Beautiful Fools, The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, riffs on one of the world's better known witticisms about "fools" -- specifically, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald's famous remark on awakening...

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The Reluctant Irishman: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Me

(9) Comments | Posted March 14, 2013 | 4:49 PM

Every Saint Patrick's Day my mother would wake us with put-on cheer, decked out in one of those drugstore-quality plastic green hats and a kelly green sweater. In her best Irish English, drawling her o's and r's, she would call out, "Top o' the morning to ya!", only to be...

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JD McPherson: An Old-Fashioned Success in the New Media Musical World

(4) Comments | Posted December 26, 2012 | 1:15 PM

With a performance of his original Christmas song "Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights)" this past week on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman earlier this month and a debut record, Signs and Signifiers, that reached #47 on the Billboard album...

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The Ramones: Tommy Ramone On Rocket To Russia, Rockaway And The Beauty Of Simplicity

(22) Comments | Posted November 20, 2012 | 8:03 AM

It's the 35th anniversary to the month of the Ramones' third studio album Rocket to Russia -- which rates #106 on Rolling Stone's most recent list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and a lot higher on my own personal list -- so I got on...

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The Fixx: Lead Singer Cy Curnin On Rock, Resilience and Beautiful Friction

(6) Comments | Posted August 10, 2012 | 9:12 AM

The New Wave band The Fixx -- best known for its Top 20 singles "Saved By Zero," "One Thing Leads to Another," and "Are We Ourselves?" from the 1980s -- just released a new album, Beautiful Friction. It took three years to write, and the band found itself "coming back...

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Tom Cruise In 'Rock Of Ages': Which Hair Metal Vocalist Inspired His Performance?

(22) Comments | Posted June 28, 2012 | 8:33 AM

Just who does Tom Cruise think he is? Or, maybe I should ask, who is he pretending to be? An awful lot of critics -- after viewing his latest movie, "Rock of Ages" -- seem to think the answer to that question is Axl Rose.

Adapted for the screen by...

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Alabama Shakes: Rehashing The Past Or Reinventing The Blues?

(9) Comments | Posted May 14, 2012 | 2:14 PM

So, what do you hear while listening to the winning, trash-soul sounds of this year's hottest
indie debut, "Boys & Girls" from Alabama Shakes? Not an ounce of affectation in lead-singer
Brittany Howard's riveting, aching appropriations of every big voice from Janis Joplin to Aretha
Franklin to...

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