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LEGO: A Love Story Hardcover – May 1, 2010
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Pre-order today
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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.
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Bender's book, however, was a fun read and written with plenty of wit, particularly as he describes the Lego conventions (which anyone who has attended comic and toy cons will easily relate) and his entrance into the Lego culture and community. It also made me appreciate this "child's toy" a lot more, which is something my parents never purchased for me (a bit too pricy in my days) but I've gone overboard for my kids --- the cost of their STAR WARS sets probably cost more than the original models made by George Lucas.
As other reviewers have said, this isn't a novel which will change your life, but it will keep you entertained with each chapter.
It's billed as a memoir, or at least that was what I thought it was, and has elements of a "project memoir" wherein the author delves into a certain subject or theme with a goal in mind. In this case, Jonathan Bender wanted to research AFOLs (adult fan of LEGO) as well as become one himself.
But I would call LEGO: A Love Story more of a researched book than a memoir. Yes, Bender shares some of his personal experiences, and the story is told through his eyes as he joins LEGO conventions and tours the headquarters in Denmark and the U.S. headquarters in Connecticut, but in general it's a feature about AFOLs and the history and future of the LEGO company.
I did learn a lot about legos. First off, you never call them "legos." LEGO is the brand, and should only be used as an adjective as in "LEGO building blocks" or "LEGO kits," or in reference to the company itself. After reading 300 pages of correct usage, I'm probably a convert and will be annoyed by everyone else's incorrect use from here on out.
I think that this book would definitely appeal to adults who play with or collect LEGO, but also to anyone who remembers LEGO fondly from their childhood. Reading this book made me happy that my son's collection is steadily growing, and honestly makes me look forward to tackling bigger projects with him.
This book could definitely be a popular Father's Day gift -- from a grown son who remembered building LEGO with his dad, or to a new father who has the opportunity to legitimize his LEGO play once again. But then again, the whole idea behind LEGO: A Love Story is that LEGO can appeal to adults in a completely unique (and legitimate) way.
Contents: Acknowledgements; Back to School; I Need a Playroom; My First Con; Stealing from a Thief; Color Changes Everything; Brick Separation Anxiety; Pink Skulls; Everything a Princess Could Wish For; I Go On a Playdate; I Give My Wife a Beach House; The Stranger Side of Building; A Man and his Museum; It's Okay, I Work Here; Becoming a Brickmaster; Danish Rocky and a Real Star Wars Expert; A Guest in LEGO's House; Protectors of the Brand; Good Luck, Boys, That Thing is Heavy; Building Blind and the Dirty Brickster; Children Not Included; Kate the Builder; You Can Go Home Again; There is no "I" in LEGO; Miniland Dad; Epilogue; Index
The first half of LEGO: A Love Story is the author's reintroduction into the LEGO world; connecting with AFOL's, visiting LEGO conventions and museums, interviewing LEGO artists and master builders, and learning to build. It is a world not unlike others where adults gather around a common interest but this one includes the author's own feeble attempts at building. Thankfully, Jonathan Bender is not a master builder, there is a lot of comedy to mine from his early attempts and, unbelievably, he includes pictures of his early builds. Bender may not be proud of his horse, but at least he has the humility to include a picture of it. It is a testament to would-be LEGO builders everywhere that, yes, there is someone worse than you. However, once you gaze upon it, you cannot help but go looking for your long forgotten LEGO bricks; after all, *I* can build better than that. I think that is what drives the early chapters of the book, Bender is recalling his own childhood, and through him, the reader is as well. The common element of most childhoods is the LEGO brick.
The early chapters, while very good at moving the narrative along, seemed to lose focus on the overall message of a chapter; thoughts and anecdotes were inserted in apparently haphazard fashion. It is as if Bender did not want to leave any of his notes on the cutting room floor. However, that particular issue does not permeate the latter chapters. Tight editing and excellent insights result in a very enjoyable chronical of one person's immersion into LEGO.
While LEGO: A Love Story is, of course, focused on AFOL's, LEGO, and the building of a family, it is the interaction between LEGO and the AFOL's that provides valuable insight into any community outside of a corporation. Whether the community is involved in a particular software, hardware, car club, or whatever, it is fascinating to see how LEGO uses, ignores, promotes, and watches the fans of their product.
This book had the desired effect on one reader; the need to build something using LEGO bricks. Also, there will be some summer trips involving a certain museum in Ohio and a LEGO convention. It cannot be helped - this book will reawaken the child in you.
Obtained from: Bookstore
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I was a child fan of Legos. I'm a fan for my 3yo who loves them. His father loves them too.Read more