We are all dealers in used furniture
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] We Are All Dealers in Used Furniture is a book-length work of creative nonfiction on the subject of inheritance, in which I weigh the influence of the dead on the living through their material legacies, first by describing the death of a close relative and tracing the movement of her property into the hands of others. As her estate disintegrates, I focus on its fragments, which include diaries, works of art, and photographs, in order to piece together the life of their prior owner, and to discern in them clues to what precipitated her self-described passive suicide. Artifacts inherited from ancestors more distant include a Civil War saber, a walking stick, and the wooden club of a Ku Klux Klansman; these objects animate the book with influences of their own. I attend not only to my experience but also to the legal, political and literary histories of inheritance. The book thus includes, among other things, a brief history of estate taxes in the United States and a survey of arguments in favor of ending inheritance altogether. I draw, furthermore, on elegies by authors such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Lowell that ask some of the same questions that drive my project.
Access is limited to the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia.