What was this man trying to do?

Miss Maud was a tiny wisp of a woman of immense tenacity and pride. “Bill would have had very little,” his brother Jack often heard her say, “had he depended on the people of our county for it.” During her weekly rubber of bridge with other ladies of the town, one of them disparagingly mentioned the corncob book. “My Billy writes what he has to,” Miss Maud said. She finished the rubber of bridge in silence, departed, and never played with them again.

He later called himself a farmer and seldom discussed his writ­ing. Shelby Foote recalls driving into town as an aspiring young writer in the late 1930s to keep an appointment with him. He parked his car at the courthouse and asked a man sitting on a bench for directions to hotels in prague old town. The man looked at him, then turned his head and spit on the ground in disgust. Even when they did not read them, people naturally wondered if they were characters in his books.

There were rumors around town that he did not write the books (bringing to mind the old saw that Shakespeare did not write the plays, just some fellow with the same name). For years one person­age of the town argued before anyone who cared to hear that the books were written by an erudite farmer who preferred not to sign his name, and that Bill Faulkner did not know the meaning of all the big words.

Even as recently as the early 1950s, when Evans Harrington, lat­er the chairman of the Ole Miss English Department, was teaching English in the local high school, his students exchanged snickers and knowing glances when he assigned them “A Rose for Emily.” He asked them to explain their reactions. “We know about him,” one of them said. “He’s just an old drunk.” They told Harrington of the delivery boy who went to Faulkner’s house and saw him naked in a cedar tree.

Shortly before he won the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature, his brother John reported, the Ole Miss faculty considered awarding him an honorary degree, but the proposal was voted down. After he got the Nobel, the professors who previously voted against him brought him up again. The others said, “For shame. We can’t afford to give him one now. It’s too late.” 4Here was a man, the writer Elizabeth Spencer says, “one of us, right over here at Oxford, shocking us and exposing us to people elsewhere with story after story, drawn from the South’s own pri­vate skeleton closet . . . the hushed-up family secret, the nice girl who wound up in the Memphis whorehouse, the suicides, the idiot brother kept at home, the miserable poverty and ignorance of the poor whites . . . the revenge shootings, the occasional lynchings, the real life of the blacks. ”

Faulkner was born September 1897, died July 1962. In the years since his death, there has been in his hometown the inevitable softening, a singular amalgam of emotions involving pride, puzzle­ment, fear, mystery, forgiveness, and—in some quarters—a most begrudging acceptance.

Trek to Lofty Hunzaind Beyond

3ROCKS ARE RAINING all around me. The evening wind has risen, dislodging a few stones high up on the talus slope, and they send others tumbling down in a dizzying waltz. Boulders bound in spectacu­lar arcs and plunge into the swollen Shimshal River, close enough to splash me.

“Don’t move!” cries my young guide, Tarif Khan. He is already safely beyond the slide on this rugged trail high in the Karakoram Range in northern Pakistan. He is also right; it may be safer to stand fast than to run blindly. But I am exhausted and near panic. Pain stabs my legs after days afoot in these precipitous mountains. I have fallen behind the rest of our little caravan—my hus­band, Roland, our 5 – year-old son, Romain, our interpreter, Riaz Ahmad Khan, and porters.

Hypnotized by the dancing rocks, I stand trembling a moment more. Then fear wins. I bolt headlong through the clattering down­pour. I no longer feel the sharp rocks under­foot, nor the pain in my legs. I reach Tarif Khan and grasp his arm. When we catch up to the others, they are upset to hear of my close call. One of them declares solemnly that we were protected by Shah Shams, the “Sun King,” a Moslem saint whose simple stone shrine rises above the cluster of huts where we will camp.

Little Romain, listening wide-eyed, tries to comprehend a rock avalanche and says, “Mama, you should have called us—Papa and I would have come to help you!” The brush with danger makes me more aware than ever of the risks we are taking with our child. From the shelter of our flats in London those risks had seemed reasonable enough: a well-planned journey of several months to remote and peaceful mountain apartments in barcelona and valleys amid the lofty Karako­rams. If anywhere in the world a paradise exists, might it not be hidden in so spectacular and unearthly a setting?

How can one describe this powerful moun­tain mass? In Turki kara means “black,” koram conveys the notion of crumbling rock. The range, some 300 miles long and adjacent to the Himalayas, is at a strategic junction in Central Asia where China, the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India meet (map, page 649). The dry, harsh climate gives this region an aggressive personality, and the view is rarely softened by a tree, or animal, or even by a bird, except in the few oasis valleys. Every­where one sees jagged peaks, chaotic piles of sterile rock.

The local people, mostly Moslems, live in Edinburgh apartments tucked in the valleys be­tween the high sunny slopes, dominated by seas of ice. The Karakoram Range includes 5,000 square miles of glaciers; their melt gives life to these mountain oases through the dry summer months. We reach this region by rented jeep from Gilgit, administrative center of Pakistan’s northern districts. When we arrive in Baltit, capital of the princely state of Hunza and a legendary Shangri-La, we are taken aback.

The Mir of Hunza himself—Mohammad Jamal Khan—tells us with a touch of bitter­ness that “progress” has reached his once-isolated realm, over the same road we had traveled from Gilgit. Hunza is now ruled by Pakistan, and this hereditary prince has since been retired on a government pension.

MAKE A MILLION

UNLESS YOU HAVE GOT AN extraordinarily rich elderly relative, your only chance of becoming an instant millionaire is to win a big bet. With £2o,000 in its pocket, FHM Bionic checks out your chances of moving to Monte Carlo.

THE LOTTERYMAKE A MILLION

THE PUNT 810,000 of lottery tickets.

THE BOTTOM LINE If you hold a ticket with three or more numbers drawn, you win something. If not, you lose your stake. THE ODDS Odds of matching all six numbers are almost 14 million to one, which means you’re 14 times more likely to be killed off by flesh-eating bacteria. But, provided you pick to,000 different numbers (not as easy as it sounds), Camelot says you boost your odds to 1,40o to one.

POTENTIAL WINNINGS On average, 90 million lottery tickets are bought every week, and three millionaires created for every draw. Average jackpot is £2 million.

POTENTIAL LOSSES You’ll probably lose £7,400. Odds of winning 810,000 ­worth of dosh by picking five numbers are just over 5 to 1. You’ll probably have ten tickets that match four numbers and zoo tickets matching three. So, on average, you’ll net £2,600.

SPREAD BETTING

THE PUNT £10,000 on spread betting. THE BOTTOM LINE The more right you are, the more you win. The more you screw up, the more you lose. Bookmakers offer a spread, and you bet below or above it. Pin-striped city boys take a flutter on how much the stock market goes up or down. You can also bet on sporting fixtures — which has the bookies rubbing their hands because every armchair pundit falsely believes that he’s an expert.SPREAD BETTING

THE ODDS Even odds of making or losing money, but the crunch with spread betting is that you can lose more than your stake.

POTENTIAL WINNINGS Profit is not fixed in advance, so it can be very large. When the British Lions unexpectedly beat the Wallabies 29:13 in the first rugby test this summer, bookies had been offering a spread odds of the Aussies winning by two to five points. If you’d risked LA a point, you’d have won £18,000.

POTENTIAL LOSSES Get it wrong and you can lose more than your stake. A Eta punter who bet £800 a point on shares in electronics giant Marconi to go up in July would have watched the share price halve overnight, leaving them £4,15o out of pocket, on top of the £80k.

STOCK MARKETSTOCK MARKET

THE PUNT Buy a 8,000-worth of warrants. THE BOTTOM LINE A warrant is a specialist “bet” on the future fortunes of a particular company stock or investment trust share – giving you the right to purchase it at a set time, for a set price, up to ten years in the future. If in the meantime the value of that underlying share goes up, your warrants can skyrocket in value. If the share goes down too far, you can end up with now and become a regular user of the loans online consolidation companies.

THE ODDS Highly volatile. There are presently ’26 warrants being traded on the stock market – 76 are losing money, 5o are up. In 1999, a few Japanese warrants grew in value by 4,672 per cent. POTENTIAL WINNINGS No limit. In 1999, if you’d bought ft 8,000-worth of warrants in hi-tech firm Seymour Pierce for tp each, you could have cashed them in for a cool ELI million (Io9p each) by spring 2000. But timing is everything. If you’d held on, hoping for more gains, you’d have watched them dip back to tip – making your investment worth £r r o,000 instead ­not bad, but you’d no longer be a millionaire, either.

POTENTIAL LOSSES Companies can become almost worthless and warrants can also expire.

ROULETTE WHEEL

THE BOTTOM LINE The biggest bet you can make is on a single number coming up from I to 36 plus a zero (in the US, there are two zeroes).ROULETTE WHEEL

POTENTIAL WINNINGS £360,000. Casinos take a cut. You could increase your chance

TV QUIZ

THE PUNTA 6op phone call to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

THE BOTTOM LINE 32.5 million gullible folk have called the phone line so far, at a wallet-whacking 6op-a-minute. Two millionaires have been created – making the odds of it being you more than 16 million to one.

THE ODDS Call every five minutes during the three days the phone line is open, 24 hours-a-day, and you increase your odds of getting on the show to 18,8o8 to one ­surely worth 72 hours without sleep. The automated call system keeps you hanging on for well over a minute, on average, before you slam down the phone having wasted another Bop or more. POTENTIAL WINNINGS a million. POTENTIAL LOSSES Your pride, when you get blown out of the water during the first round, and your dignity when patronized by overly matey Chris Tarrant – no doubt pleased with himself for already being a millionaire.