One Book, One Chicago Fall 2011
Jackson Park from the Boathouse
Courtesy Chicago Public Library, Special Collections & Preservation Division
Augie – A streetwise, introspective young man raised in poverty by a single mother on Chicago’s Near Northwest Side.
Simon – Augie’s handsome, fair-featured older brother. He is less romantic and more socially ambitious than Augie.
Georgie – Augie’s developmentally disabled younger brother.
Mama – Augie’s mother, Rebecca March. A simple woman with failing eyesight who was abandoned by her sons’ father and left to provide for three children on her own.
Grandma Lausch – Not related by blood, but a boarder whom the Marches take in for income, and who subsequently advises and controls the family.
Winnie – A poodle kept by Grandma Lausch.
Stiva and Alexander Lausch – Grandma’s grown children. Wealthy, successful businessmen who live in Racine and Duluth.
Kreindl – The Marches’ Hungarian-born downstairs neighbor, who teaches Grandma how to play chess, and who keeps an interest in their welfare over the years.
Lubin – A social worker whose caseload includes the Marches.
Old Sylvester – The owner of a local theater, who gives Augie his first job handing out flyers promoting shows.
Sylvester – Old Sylvester’s son, who studies engineering at Armour Tech, but befriends young Augie despite the age difference. He was married briefly to the sister of Mimi Villars. He becomes a communist and tries to recruit Simon; later moves to Mexico where Augie meets him as he’s working as bodyguard to Leon Trotsky.
Anna Coblin – Rebecca March’s better-off cousin, who lives on the North Side and takes in Augie one summer to help run the family business.
Hyman Coblin – Anna’s husband, who makes a good living managing newspaper delivery routes and spends his afternoons idling about town.
Friedl Coblin – The Coblins’ daughter, whom Anna would like to see marry Augie someday.
Howard Coblin – The Coblins’ son, who has joined the Marines and gone to fight Sandino in Nicaragua.
“Five Properties” – Anna’s brother (and Rebecca’s cousin), who delivers dairy by day and has successfully invested in rental income property on the side. With his “five properties,” he considers himself a suitable bachelor, and is known to be in the market for a wife.
Steve “The Sailor” Bulba – A tough kid at school who shares a locker with Augie. He later teams up with Joe Gorman and Augie to rob a leather goods shop.
Jimmy Klein – Augie’s friend from school and from the neighborhood. Jimmy comes from a huge family that rents a garden apartment where Augie is always welcome.
Uncle Tambow – Jimmy Klein’s uncle, a ward-heeler who sometimes employs Augie, Jimmy and Sylvester for odd tasks.
Clementi “Clem” Tambow – Jimmy Klein’s cousin and another neighborhood friend of Augie’s. Clem refuses to work for his father or, indeed, for anyone. He later enrolls at University of Chicago and pines for Augie’s neighbor, Mimi Villars.
Donald – Clem’s brother, an amateur singer, actor and showman.
Hilda Novinson – Augie’s first crush, a shy girl from school whom he follows around but never asks out.
William Einhorn – A small-time businessman, landlord and sometimes swindler who runs a pool hall and many other operations. A handicapped man, Einhorn hires Augie as an errand-boy and becomes a mentor and role model.
“The Commissioner” – Einhorn’s father, whose acumen built the family’s small fortune.
“Dingbat” – Einhorn’s half-brother, a flashy dresser who admires gangsters and fancies himself a boxing promoter.
Tillie – Einhorn’s loving wife.
Arthur – Einhorn and Tillie’s son, whom they send to college in Champaign and who later dates Mimi Villars.
Bavatsky – The Einhorns’ handyman.
Lollie Fewter – Einhorn’s maid, and an ongoing object of his lustful attentions.
The Karas-Holloways – Tillie Einhorn’s cousin Karas, who married into the wealthy Holloway family and manages their businesses impeccably, and his snobbish wife.
Nails Nagel – A boxer whom Dingbat manages.
Kinsman – Einhorn’s tenant, who runs a funeral parlor in the same building as the pool hall.
Joe Gorman – A thief and burglar acquainted with Augie from the pool hall. Augie allows himself to be recruited by Gorman for odd, illegal jobs, including a petty robbery and running immigrants over the border from Canada near Buffalo.
The Renlings – A wealthy Evanston retailer and his socialite wife, who first hire and groom Augie to work in their shop, then train in social manners and offer to adopt.
Willa Steiner – A waitress in Evanston with whom Augie has a fling.
Esther Fenchel – A beautiful heiress who stays in the same Benton Harbor resort hotel as Augie when he vacations with Mrs. Renling. Augie is smitten with her.
Thea Fenchel – Esther’s equally beautiful older sister, who is smitten with Augie.
Clarence Ruber – An acquaintance of Augie’s from Crane College who recruits him to sell rubber cement after Augie leaves the Renlings.
Stoney – A stocky young man who attaches himself to Augie while they are both riding the rails, after Augie escapes arrest in upstate New York.
Wolfy – Augie’s other brief companion on the rails, whose real name we never learn and who gets arrested in Detroit.
Cissy Flexner – Simon’s tall, beautiful girlfriend, with whom he is infatuated. She eventually marries Five Properties.
Mildred Stark – A handicapped woman who becomes infatuated with Einhorn through his newsletter writing, before becoming his assistant and secretary.
Guillaume – A French dog groomer and dog walker with whom Augie works for a time.
Manny Padilla – A friend of Augie’s from Crane College who becomes a book thief to put himself through the University of Chicago. Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, he is a genius in mathematical physics and eventually takes a job in a biophysics lab.
Charlotte Magnus – A large, pretty-faced, very wealthy heiress who falls in love with Simon and marries him.
Renee – Simon’s longtime mistress who claims that she is pregnant with Simon’s child and threatens to kill herself. Renee later tries to sue Simon; however, Charlotte intervenes and Renee disappears along with the lawsuit.
Owens – An old Welshman who runs a boarding house in Hyde Park where Augie lives and works in exchange for rent.
Mimi Villars – Augie’s neighbor in the boarding house, and a waitress at the student hash house. Her boyfriend, Hooker Frazer, gets her pregnant, and she asks Augie for help.
Hooker Frazer – Mimi Villars’ lover, a graduate assistant in political science, and one of Augie’s book customers. He gets Mimi pregnant and leaves her to go back to his wife.
Kayo Obermark – Shares the attic with Augie and Mimi at Owens’ house. After his return from Mexico, Augie teaches with him at the same school for a short while.
Lucy Magnus – Charlotte’s younger, slimmer and prettier cousin, who falls in love with Augie and even begins to refer to him as her “husband.”
Grammick – Mimi’s friend, a union organizer who hires Augie to work as his assistant, organizing strikes for the American Federation of Labor.
Happy Kellerman – Works at the coal yard for Simon and Augie as a weigh man.
Kelly Weintraub – Has known Augie and Simon for years and is related to the Magnuses. He catches Augie taking Mimi to the doctor for an abortion and then spreads rumors of their involvement, resulting in Augie and Lucy’s breakup.
Caligula – The eagle that Thea and Augie take to Mexico; they plan to train him to hunt giant lizards.
Bizcocho – The horse that Augie rides on during his and Thea’s expeditions to catch lizards; Thea must shoot him after an accident because of his broken leg.
Jacinto – A house boy in Mexico who helps train Caligula.
Smitty – Thea’s estranged husband. Thea goes to Mexico with Augie partly to get a divorce from him.
Stella – A woman Augie meets in Mexico and helps to escape questioning from the police who are looking for her boyfriend, Oliver. Later Augie goes to New York to be with Stella, followed by a move to Paris so she can pursue an acting career.
Oliver – Stella’s boyfriend in Mexico, who is arrested for tax evasion.
Robey – an eccentric and stingy Chicago millionaire who employs Augie to be his assistant while he is writing a book on human happiness. Ultimately Robey only wants someone to listen to him talk.
Mintouchain – An Armenian divorce lawyer and Agnes Kuttner’s lover, he befriends Augie and they discuss his thoughts on love and adultery. Mintouchain pays Augie to manage his black market dealings in Europe.
Agnes Kuttner – A friend of Stella’s and Mintouchain’s mistress. While in New York she fakes a mugging and claims a diamond ring is stolen to collect on the insurance.
Bateshaw – A native Chicagoan who survives the shipwreck of the Sam MacManus with Augie. He talks constantly about his obsession with learning the secrets of creating life. The two eventually fight and Augie contemplates throwing him overboard but decides not to in the end.
Jacqueline – Augie and Stella’s housemaid in Paris, she travels to Burge with Augie at the end of the novel. Along the way Jacqueline reveals to Augie her dreams of traveling to Mexico, which makes Augie laugh.