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Novelist Wendell Berry's Sketch of a Man Who Was Never Present

In his novel Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry describes a character from the fictional town of Port William named Ray Overhold, a quiet, smiling man who "was about as ordinary as a man could be." Berry writes:

Roy, who had never claimed to be a lion, would thereupon be discovered to not be on the attack, or even on the defense, but merely not present …. In all his life he never did anything that surprised Port William. Except for the sometime extremity of his misery, I don't think he ever surprised himself …. I don't think he ever fought with [his wife] or made much of an argument in his own favor. When she raised the pressure, he just escaped. He just quietly shifted off into one of the maybe innumerable precincts of Port William or the surrounding outdoors where she disdained to go …. As a rule when the pressure was on, Roy eased away. He was not by nature a man who was very much in evidence.

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