Reckless Eyeballing is a work written in the third person that closely follows the life of black playwright Ian Ball over a period of weeks in Manhattan as he tries to get his second major play produced. Having left the Caribbean island of New Oyo to become a famous writer, Ian is caught between the conflicting political demands of a small group of theater people. Ian emotionally and philosophically vacillates between feuding factions that argue over his position as playwright and the political correctness of his play. He is torn between loyalty to a simpler southern way of life and the hectic, conflicting social interactions in a major northern city. Ian is also philosophically trapped between an older generation of black, male, radical, anti-feminist playwrights and an emerging group of white and black radical feminist playwrights and directors. A series of short vignettes shows the increasing demands put on Ian by his producer, Becky French, and his director, Tremonisha Smarts. His chief supporter, a white director named Jim Minsk, is brutally sacrificed in a racist and sexist ceremony held at a fraudulent “college” in the South. At the same time, a bizarre series of attacks on leading feminists in the arts is perpetrated by the Flower Phantom, a masked intruder who cuts off his victims’ hair and leaves a chrysanthemum at the scene of his crimes, claiming the women deserve the same punishment that French female collaborators with the Nazis received after World War II. White detective Lawrence O’Reedy is assigned to the case. Nearing the end of his tenure as a New York police officer, O’Reedy is suffering from hallucinations in which the black and Hispanic victims of his quick gun come back to haunt him. The Flower Phantom continuously strikes throughout the novel, as O’Reedy’s investigation becomes more and more muddled. Ian’s mixed reaction to the Flower Phantom reflects his troubled state of mind. He refers to himself as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; he rationally feels the attacker is crazy but emotionally supports his actions.
Becky French demands that Ian’s play, slated to be shown at the prestigious Mountbatten Theater, be produced instead at a smaller venue. In place of Ian’s play, Becky plans to produce Eva’s Honeymoon, a play that takes place at the end of World War II in Adolf Hitler’s bunker. In this play, Eva Braun rebels against Hitler, claiming that she as well as other German women have been victimized. Eva shoots and kills Hitler...
(The entire section is 1021 words.)