Humorous hubris

Hang on to your seats. Here come the Value America guys again. As if they hadn’t rocked this town enough, they’ve spent the last 18 months telling their side of the story. They didn’t take the time or money to hire a good book editor to do so, just spun out the whole long, detailed, self-congratulatory tale, wrapped it up in book’s clothing, and sent it out into the world, thinking that perhaps this act would buy them the gratitude and hero-worship they all know they deserve, having built (in the words of the book) “the greatest company in the world.”

Get a whiff of this book, moralistically titled In the Company of Good and Evil:

“For a few magical months, Value America was the greatest company in the world. The plan was coming together; we could see it happening before our eyes. We were all together in one place, crowded and noisy and alive with a buzz so palpable you could scoop it with a spoon. The moment began to feed on itself like a nuclear reaction, and we were all swept up in it. We had followed our pied piper and had given our all to make the dream live. We were on a mission, devoted and passionate. Value America was our company— we were going to change the world. We had all ‘drunk the Kool-Aid.’”

It’s not just that the authors of this book— two of the five “Valuable Americans” and founders of the flash-in-the-pan— drop clichés and dead metaphors as if in a contest to see who knows the most. It’s not that they forgot to eat their humble pie for breakfast. It’s not that they believe the rest of the world really cares to hear the soap opera intricacies of every backroom, closed-door, airport barroom conversation they had during the last five years of the 20th century. It’s just that they have the gall to spend nearly 600 pages telling the story so slantedly Their Way. Don’t they see the implications any levelheaded reader will draw, even if just from their analogy to Jim Jones, the monomaniac cult leader who convinced his people to die for his cause?

By the end of this book, one recognizes that Power and Winn— and their three founding cronies, Rex Scatena, Joe Page, and Bill Hunt (who is throwing his heart into marketing this book)— believe that the world is made of good guys and bad guys. With Jerry Falwell as counselor and friend, and a Biblical quotation attached to every chapter, it’s clear where they see themselves.

Get thee behind us, Value America. You’ve done enough to our city already. 


Craig Winn and Ken Power will present their book and sign copies at Barnes & Noble on Thursday, February 21, at 7pm.