Ah, the tender story of a man and his plastic bricks. Like Stefan Fatsis' Word Freak (about Scrabble enthusiasts), or Stanley Newman and Mark Lasswell's Cruciverbalism (about crossword puzzlers), Bender's memoir offers an entertaining look at a rich, vibrant, and only somewhat eccentric subculture built around something many would consider a mere pastime. But, for some, including the author, LEGO is no mere pastime. There are conventions devoted to the stackable plastic bricks; at least one publication (BrickJournal); an online marketplace for collectors (similar to eBay); and a surprising number of fairly strict rules (do not, under pain of ridicule or worse, pluralize the word LEGO). LEGO has been around since the late 1950s, but it was only in the mid-'90s that adult fandom really came into its own—the acronym AFOL, for adult fan of LEGO, was coined in 1995. Bender explores not just the AFOL subculture, with its superstars and wannabes and rivalries, but also describes his own rediscovery of a childhood toy and the impact it has had on his life. If you wanted to call the book a paean to LEGO, you wouldn't be far wrong, but don't think the audience for this utterly delightful work is limited to, well, LEGO freaks. --David Pitt
From the Inside Flap
The unofficial LEGO Museum lies hidden in Bellaire, Ohio, with millions of plastic bricks sculpted into everything from robotic bands to Dirk Nowitzki to a goat on a lifeguard tower. A secret set vault slumbers beneath a hidden panel in the original house of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen in Billund, Denmark. An eleven-foot LEGO replica of a speedboat teeters on a rickety wooden dock in Seattle, Washington, threatening to plunge and sink into the Pacific Ocean as five men struggle to keep it balanced. And in the Kansas City, Missouri, home of Jonathan Bender, a massive Star Wars LEGO set leans against the wall in a vacant room.
Jonathan comes face-to-face with all of these scenes as he explores the obsessive and diverse subculture of adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs), walking the line between art and commerce, play and Serious Play, and fantasy and real life, hoping to learn how the plastic brick of our childhoods inspires us as adults.
Awakened from the "Dark Ages"that period of time when LEGO bricks are forgotten in a childhood closetBender rekindles his dream of becoming a master model builder, putting his skills to the test at adult fan conventions around the country. Here he meets fans who design their own sets, customize minifigures (LEGO people) to resemble superheroes and movie characters, and amass collections that number in the hundreds of thousands of bricks.
Bender also recruits his wifethe furniture builder in their householdto build alongside him, attempting to fill the child-size void in their lives. As their home slowly fills up with LEGO bricks, the spare bedroom swings between build room and potential nursery. Immersed in a toy-centric world without children, LEGO: A Love Story is ultimately about what it takes to build a family.
EGO: A Love Story explores what happens when the imagination of your childhood intersects with your life as an adult.
Jacket art by Nathan Sawaya, a New Yorkbased artist who creates awe-inspiring works out of some of the most unlikely things. His work has been featured in collections across the country. His most recent North American museum tours feature large-scale sculptures using only LEGO bricks. Learn more at brickartist.com.