Busy day today, so I just thought I'd share with you this little nugget of a sentence I came across last night, from Atonement by Ian McEwan. It describes the atmosphere in London in the early days of World War II, before the Germans began bombing:
"The dead were not yet present, the absent were presumed alive."
That, by the way, is more or less an example of chiasmus--a sort of "reverse parallelism," where the elements of the first part of a sentence are switched around in the second part. A simple example of chiasmus would be something like, "If you're looking for a fight, then a fight you shall have." The writer uses the rhetorical device to express with a minimal number of words a relatively complex thought: Nobody in London was dying yet, and the soldiers who were away fighting in France could safely be assumed to be alive--at least until further information was revealed. The sentence is pretty, too: beginning and ending on strong beats, it has a sort of "u-shaped" rhythm. Well done, indeed, Mr. McEwan.