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USING MEDIA FOR TEACHING ENGLISH: LITERATURE: STEPHEN AMIDON'S
THE NEW CITY


amazon.de The New City
by
Stephen Amidon
amazon.de

Stephen Amidon's novel The New City was first published in February 2000 and will probably climb the bestsellers' lists due to its well developed plot and sustained suspense which fascinates the reader right to the end of the 500-page story.
Newton, Maryland, is the result of the ageing Barnaby Vine's vision, the owner of EarthWorks which built this new city. Vine's driving motive to construct such a perfect town was to build a place which would provide a remedy for the social chaos gripping the nation (beginning 1970s). Vine once said, put people in cages and they'll act like animals...put them in communities and they'll act like human beings.... The notion of black boys and white boys going at ane another with pool cues was definitely not part of the blueprint (i.e. for the new city).
But after the place has been finished, things turn out to be very different. For unexplainable reasons fish in the new man-made city's lake begin to die in their hundreds, gas lamps keep exploding and teen gangs fight each other and cause damage to buildings. This is the situation the new residents are facing and every bad news makes it more difficult for EarthWorks to sell or rent their new homes. EarthsWorks' man and lawyer in Newton is Austin Swope who tries to cover up all negative events from being published by the media. He and his wife Sally and their smart son belong to the main characters of the story. Austin's friend and colleague is the black and very able Earl Wooten who has been asked by EarthsWorks to be the general foreman of the city project. He is in charge of the actual construction works. Wooten's wife is Ardelia, herself principal of the local new high school and their son Joel who is friendly with Teddy Swope. The third couple involved in the story is the Truaxes: Sergeant John Truax, a Vietnam veteran and his German wife Irma and their daughter Susan.
Things are becoming sinister and excting when the Truaxes and the Wootens try to forbid their daughter Susan to date Joel Wooten. Irma Truax is obsessed with prejudice against blacks and thinks she won't make it into the American mainstream society with a prospective black son-in-law. The other reason for the story to gain momentum is Austin Swope's suspicion that Earl Wooten might thwart his plan of becoming city manager, when he hears that Wooten has been summoned by EarthsWorks' managing director to come to Chicago. There, in fact, Wooten is not offered that job, but a job as a foreman of a new theme park project in Virginia. Not knowing this, Austin tries to discredit Earl by lies and imputations.
A tragic incident resulting from the loving Joel and Susan and their jealous friend Teddy leads to even more suspense when Austin Swope tries to cover up a fatal accident in which his son Teddy is involved.
Sergeant Truax' misjudgement compounds to the tragic course of events until he kills Teddy and himself. In the end the lives of all three couples (the Swopes, the Wootens and the Tuaxes) are in shatters due to prejudice, hatred and false ambitions.
An absolutely well written and exciting story which will fascinate you.


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