Reed's a contentious writer, insistently cross-grained; here, in a more than usually naturalistic but no less feisty mode, he's out to dissect black literary politics: ""Every black guy had a cynical theory when another black guy was 'successful.'"" Several theories, in fact--and black guy is only half the question: black gal may be more to the point. When young black playwright Ian Ball (I. Ball) puts on his first play, Suzanna, in New York, he's immediately kneecapped by a brigade of black feminists who charge him and his writing with incurable piggishness. So Ian tries to adapt with his next opus, Reckless Eyeballing (about a lynching that took place after a rape trial, a black man accused of looking at a woman too hard). The director is none other than Tremonisha Smarts, Broadway's black feminist darling (obvious shades of Ntozake Shange), but under shriller and more strident invective by her more radical, implacable sisters, even she can't lighten Ian's load. Reed's style is as cartoony as ever; and one section--a New York Jewish theater director murdered at a Southern fundamentalist college's theater festival--has the hallmark's of Reed's best surrealism. But the Ã clef elements here are necessarily quite insular. Scores of scores seem to be settled; it's a clubby book, really, without much reach to it--yet consistently enlivened by Reed's rude truth-saying and sass.