Book Review: Inappropriate Crush by Hanne Blank

posted Nov 14, 2011, 3:39 PM by jj pionke
I am, obviously, expanding this blog to talk about not just library stuff, but being in an R1 graduate school and of course reading and all things related.  At any rate, I think this blog will be far more interesting doing it this way than just sticking strictly with what I am learning in class.
A couple of months ago, Hanne Blank put out a call for a limited edition, limited number of books called Inappropriate Crush. Since I am a fan of Blank's work, I figured why not.  It sounded like an interesting project.  It is an interesting project but in a very unexpected way.  The first half of the book are the short stories that I expected and they are a delight.  Some are a little baffling but others are just lovely in how they sit in the brain.  The second half of the book is a bit more problematic. The second half deals with non-fiction and is a series of essays by Blank about a few different topics including the authentic sexuality movement, her mother's new age divination stuff, piss, and a recipe.  The first essay, about her mother, was an interesting interlude, because I too love the Victorian.  The authentic sexuality essay was also fascinating and I found myself thinking, I have to remember about this essay so that the next time I teach gender/sexuality I assign it.  What does all of this have to do with crush?
I'll be honest and say I am not sure!  The recipe could certainly be used on friends and lovers to woo them.  But the essays?  I think they deal with far more deeper issues related to sex and psychology than is immediately discernable.  I think it's also Blank having a moment of being far more meta than I was expecting about what a crush is.  I think we tend to look at a crush as a sexual type of thing.  I have a crush on person so and so and sometimes that crush comes to fruition and sometimes it doesn't.  I think Blank is also defining crush with this non-fiction section as a lust for life, loved ones, and yes, sex.  I loved her essay on housekeeping because it talked about something that I have always felt a little vaguely guilty about enjoying - that is having a clean house.  As a college student and as a single person, aren't I supposed to be a slob?  Aren't I supposed to not mind a bit of mess?  And yet, I enjoy having a scrubbed down apartment.  I won't go as far as she goes by getting down on hands and knees and I certainly should dust more, but I do enjoy when the apartment is clean and I feel better when the apt is clean.  When I am feeling distressed and distracted, doing the physical work of cooking and cleaning helps clear my head.  So, yes, I think she is on to something about a crush being something more than a sex object, that we can have a crush on objects and work and ideas.
This is an eclectic book, fun and brainy, joyful and heart-rending.  I am giving it a thumbs up because it did make me laugh and it did make me think and it is a beautifully written book.