From Joseph Epstien’s oped in the July 13 WSJ on Biden v Trump (please, dear Lord, no)
Each man has risen to the presidency thanks, mostly, to the unattractiveness of his electoral opponent. Each man was elected as a lesser-evil choice, yet both have succeeded in vastly polluting the tone of our country’s political life. Lesser-evil choices sometimes turn out to be evil enough.
Low and seedy are the corruptions of which Messrs. Trump and Biden have been accused: molesting women, entering into dubious financial dealings with foreign corporations and governments, cavalierly mishandling important documents, and more.
My italics. I’m not here today on content, but just on writing. I make mental notes of little writing tricks that might embellish my prose.
I liked the first one, just because it’s such a beautiful catchy phrase. I’m not sure what the general principle is, but I’d like to come up with more prose like that.
The second one has a clearer lesson. The usual rule is, write your sentences forward. Or, more likely, edit your sentences to be forwards. You should quickly turn that one around to “The corruptions of which Messrs. Trump and Biden have been accused are low and seedy.” Or, better, through it changes the subject a bit, “Messrs. Trump and Biden have been accused of low and seedy corruptions.” 99% of the time you should do that.
But not this time. Look how beautiful that backward sentence is. There must be some biblical quote it refers to. Maybe readers can come up with the allusions.
Don’t do it all the time. But rules are made to be broken, if you really know what you’re doing. Which Epstein clearly does.