It’s the 1980s and the politics of the New York theater scene have taken yet another turn. Masochism is out and feminism is in, Jews are out and Germans are in, race is out and gender is in, and everyone’s fighting (and rewriting) for a piece of the pie.
Jewish director Jim Minsk disappears during a trip to the South. Black playwright Ian Ball writes the all-female play Reckless Eyeballing in hopes of getting off the “sex-list.” Preeminent playwright Jack Brashford, claiming the Jews stole all his black material, decides to write about Armenians. In the background, an unknown assailant dubbed the “Flower Phantom” runs loose through the city shaving heads of prominent black feminists (to the secret delight of black men).
In this hilarious, devastating, but also deeply sympathetic novel, Ishmael Reed turns characters on their backs, sides, tops and bottoms to expose the multiple hypocrisies at the heart of American culture.