cover image The Haygoods of Columbus: A Love Story

The Haygoods of Columbus: A Love Story

Wil Haygood. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $24 (360pp) ISBN 978-0-395-67170-2

Though all stories of happy families are said to be alike, very few are blessed by such an open-hearted, clear-sighted chronicler as Haygood, a reporter for the Boston Globe and biographer of Adam Clayton Powell (King of Cats). His story focuses on happenings on Mount Vernon Avenue--the gritty, boisterous street of his youth in the black neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, where the Baptist minister rallied the folks to support the local grocer against the new chain store and the principled, hard-pressed editor of the local newspaper defeated bankruptcy with the community's help. On this street, Haygood's irresistibly charming brother, ""Macaroni,"" became a pimp, a thief, a jailbird and, eventually, a respected factotum of his church. Here, too, Haygood's fun-loving mother became alcoholic, his hard-working grandparents doled out love and sober advice, his siblings discovered their diverse paths in life and he himself, after many false starts, found the route to becoming a globe-trotting journalist. Haygood's deft and loving portraits of his family's saints and sinners form a thoughtful, unsentimental report on the life of a street that resonates, as he notes, to the city, the state and, finally, to America itself. Photos. (Apr.)