Jane Hodges is a Seattle-based business journalist with literary tendencies (or rather: a creative person with a practicality problem), and author of Rent Vs. Own: A Real Estate Reality Check for Navigating Booms, Busts and Bad Advice (Chronicle, 2012). In the weeks leading up to that book’s debut, she became power of attorney for both her father in South Carolina and her uncle in Alabama. They each died, forcing her, grieving, back to the South she had fled like a prison escapee. There, in her executrix role, she found herself hocking jewelry at Southern Bullion, pawning a gun, skirting tornados, hacking into e-mail and bank accounts, trying to divest mountain plots and timeshares, and taking trips to the Oconee County Transfer Station, where in a heat wave she quickly deposited several cows’ worth of freezer-burned beef before it thawed. Navigating Dixie with a catty ex-military rent-a-brother, a gypsy jazz CD, and her Letters Testamentary, she wound up with both a big thyroid problem and a little inheritance. Therein lay the neurotic rub: The last time her family inherited money it vaporized in a Ponzi scheme, resulting in a lifetime of familial fiscal shame and weirdness—the sort she spent 2012 confronting as the business of life unraveled her business journalism career. Now guided by her literary tendencies, she’s exploring the comedy of her tragedies in memoir.

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