RICHARD MCNEFF is the son of the eponymous actor and the Liverpudlian poet Lynne Munn.
He has taught English in Barcelona, Bergara and Baku; curated shows for the sculptor Barry Flanagan; penned songs for Smugglers of Love and Banned Practice, both sadly missed (by him). He was born and lives in London.
His cult novel Sybarite among the Shadows (Mandrake of Oxford), set in 1936 and featuring Aleister Crowley, Dylan Thomas, Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, was greeted by the Independent on Sunday as a "so different from anything you normally find on bookshelf it should perhaps be a compulsory purchase".
Booker prizewinner Barry Unsworth said of his novel Disorders of the Pleasure Centre (Weathering), which time shifts between Ancient Rome and modern Ibiza: "I was full of admiration for the way that details of the period were worked into the narrative with complete naturalness. The prose itself is fluent and expressive and can go from ironic observation to a vein of poetry.”
His memoir, With Barry Flanagan: Travels through Time and Spain (Lilliput), was reviewed recently on Amazon by publisher Martin Davies as "art writing at its best, self deprecating prose that makes every page a delight."
Recently, his Brexit satire Deceived Kingdom (Weathering) was published, which the journalist Robert Nurden described as "all at once - science fiction fantasy, contemporary lampoon, surreal romp and stand-up comedy" which will "have you cursing at the turn of history it so skilfully derides while chuckling into your post-Brexit porridge."
A Mad-Max style post-Brexit dystopia!
EXUBERANT BREXITEER Marmaduke Porlock seems certain to be Prime Minister, in the wake of victory in the Referendum. The night before the ball starts rolling, however, he dreams he is reigns over a beleaguered splinter of the former UK — Ingerland.
It is 2026. Digital referendums rule; the issues thrashed out nightly on EastEnders. The Caliphate menace from north and west. An invasion force bears down from Europe. The Royals in exile plot revenge. But worse of all is the avanging angel that awaits Marmaduke in space — David, Spirit of Britain, shapeshifting from Ziggy to Major Tom.
Brilliantly written, post-Brexit satire in the tradition of Swift, Voltaire and Vonnegut.
More than a romp through a post-Brexit un-United Kingdom, this is a glorious reworking of the matter of Britain.
Original, funny and well written; visual too, like the Batman films.
A true satire, at once erudite and vicious, and, in the deeply pleasurable skewering of the offenders, solace for the offence. Eamonn Shanahan
This vividly written satire would make a great television series. But before Deceived Kingdom makes it on to the cathode ray, make sure you read it...
It's a hoot! Many jokes; fanastical twists and turns.
A great read, Richard McNeff at his best.
Robin Le Mesurier
LOVE, REVENGE, MURDER, mind-bending drugs and time travel weave an irresistible web of intrigue in this surreal romp down the ages.
In a headlong rush across two millennia we are transported back and forth between the hedonistic pleasure palaces of Emperor Nero and the anarchic party scene of present-day Ibiza. Add a heady brew of Christian martyrdom, alcoholism and aphrodisiacs and we have all the ingredients for a remarkable psychodrama.
From the moment he stumbles across a tomb containing a skeleton and three mysterious Latin scrolls, classical scholar Mark Compayne becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth about Nero’s inner circle. He finds himself swept back in time and even taking part in the misdeeds of ancient Rome.
As the story unfolds, he realises that this tale of treachery disturbingly mirrors his own life. For him, once he’s unlocked the greatest secret of the ancient world, things can never be the same again…
I thought the book impeccably researched. In fact I was full of admiration for the way that details of the period were worked into the narrative with complete naturalness. The finer points of dress, custom, social and military organisation were all handled extremely well. The prose itself is fluent and expressive and can go from ironic observation to a vein of poetry.
Barry Unsworth (Booker Prize winner)
With Barry Flanagan: Travels through Time and Spain
WITH BARRY FLANAGAN is a vivid account of a friendship that evolved into a working relationship when Richard McNeff became ‘spontaneous fixer’ (Flanagan’s description) of the sculptor’s show held in June 1992 at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Ibiza, where they were both living. McNeff was to gain a privileged insight into the sculptor’s singular personality and eccentric working methods, learning to decipher his memorably surreal turns of phrase and to parry his fascinating, if at times unsettling, pranksteresque quirks.
In September 1992 Flanagan and McNeff took the show to Majorca, resulting a lively visit to the celebrated Spanish artist Miquel Barceló. The following year McNeff was involved in Flanagan’s print-making venture in Barcelona and in his Madrid retrospective. Flanagan rescued him from a rough landing in England in 1994 by commissioning a tour of stone quarries there. Subsequently McNeff ran into a fourteen-year-old profoundly deaf girl who turned out to be his unknown daughter. She had a talent for art and the generous sculptor was instrumental in helping with her studies.
Late in 2008 Barry was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. By June 2009 he was wheelchair-bound. Two months later he died, and McNeff read the lesson at his funeral. Fleshed out with biographical detail, much of it supplied by the sculptor himself, supplemented by photographs and details of the work, this touching memoir is the first retrospective of a major Welsh-born artist. With Barry Flanagan captures the spirit of this remarkable Merlinesque figure in a moving portrait that reveals a true original.
ISBN: 978 1 84351 322 3 - hardback (also in Kindle) - The Lilliput Press
It is a very personal and often hilarious recollection of McNeff's support of Flanagan...a compelling portrait of this great artist.
Barbara Dawson: Irish Arts Review
Your book is so rich in Barry-lore and response to his work that it more or less makes other biographies unnecessary.
Catherine Lampert (letter to the author)
This book is chock full of 'Flanagan anecdotes' and as a reader I felt like I was being let in on a secret of these bohemian artists who had lived in Ibiza and their hippy and boozy lives. It is a fascinating account and whether you are familiar with Flanagan's artistic work or not, this is an extremely interesting biography which is a great read that will leave you more knowledgeable about the artist as well as entertained by the stories.
The Dublin Duchess
Most recent review
By Martin Davies ( 7 July 2017)
A cracking memoir - funny, informative, elegiac and thought-provoking. Barry Flanagan cast leaping leporines, spent his final years on Ibiza and was born in Prestatyn (where I attended a wonderfully 1930s prep school), but these bare factoids are also connected with the fundamental laws of the Universe. He was actually a magician with words and ideas, and his playful probing into public minds and private lives was worthy of Gandalf himself. Ibizaholics will delight in McNeff's expert skewering of island life and mores, while the artist's hilarious two-step with museum directors and local hacks is sheer joy. The journey into Flanagan's Jarryesque modus operandi is art writing at its best, self-deprecating prose that makes every page a delight. Lilliput Press have risen magnificently to the occasion with pruned-back design, a sensible typeface, nice, creamy paper plus a sprinkling of helpful illustrations. In short, like a glittering vernissage you cannot afford to miss.
A Reduction of Invertigo, the "lost" appendix of With Barry Flanagan, now featured here
SYBARITE AMONG THE SHADOWS Dylan Thomas, Aleister Crowley and Victor Neuburg caught in a surrealist web. What if the Beast returnedand you were not sure if he were the best or worst thing that had ever happened to you? Sybarite among the Shadows finds Victor Neuburg on June 11 1936 with the poet he discovered, Dylan Thomas. They embark on a quest whose object is Neuburg's old master, the Great Beast 666; settings, the Surrealist Exhibition, and pubs and clubs of bohemian London; characters, Augustus John, Nina Hamnett and Tom Driberg. Neuburg confronts his demons; Crowley does too. They also meet something far more menacing: MI5's plot to avert the Abdication.
McNeff's book is so different from anything you usually find on a bookshelf that it should perhaps be a compulsory purchase...shines a flickering light on the British avant-garde.
The Independent on Sunday
Probably the finest modern novel featuring Aleister Crowley...
Aleister Crowley as himself in all his occult and charismatic glory - a manipulative, overbearing, bizarre yet compelling character. Fiction could hardly have invented him: he is a gift of a character to any novelist & Richard McNeff has accepted him, unwrapped the parcel and given him his head.
Martin Booth (Booker-Prize-shortlisted author of A Magick Life: A Biography of Aleister Crowley)
For more about Sybarite and writings on Crowley and Neuburg
Miquel Barceló i Barry Flanagan. Cerámiques i Dibuxos
Enrique Juncosa and Richard McNeff
Publisher: Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Ibiza, Ajuntament D'Eivissa
Miquel Barceló and Barry Flanagan, Ceramics and Drawings, published to coincide with the exhibition of the two artists' work at
the Museum of Contemporary Art of Ibiza 27 of April to 31 October 2012. Contains my account of the their first meeting in English,
Spanish and Catalan.
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