September 10, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it a B+

Residents are forbidden to complain about mosquitoes; ”porch police” are on the lookout for infractions like macramé hangers and fake plants; ”musical mushrooms” fill the streets with cloying tunes. Such Truman Show-like absurdities abound in these fascinating accounts of life in the new-but-looks-old town that Disney carved from a central Florida swamp in 1996. Frantz and Collins, married journalists with children, create novelistic suspense in vivid tales from their year in Celebration’s ”potluck supper culture,” where families struggle with shoddy home construction and chaotic classrooms. Single apartment-dweller Ross explores ideas of corporate utopia, revealing Celebration’s gay culture, teenagers’ secret Saturday-night hangouts, and the feminist appeal of a pedestrian-oriented town where moms escape full-time driving duty. From U.S.A.‘s chatty front-porch perch to Chronicles‘ more critically expansive balcony view, a compelling sense of place emerges from beneath the pixie dust.
U.S.A.: B+
Chronicles: A

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