Pogrebin, Letty Cottin 1939-
POGREBIN, Letty Cottin 1939-
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Po-greb-in;" born June 9, 1939, in New York, NY; daughter of Jacob (an attorney) and Cyral (a designer; maiden name, Halpern) Cottin; married Bertrand B. Pogrebin (an attorney), December 8, 1963; children: Abigail and Robin (twins), David. Education: Brandeis University, B.A. (cum laude), 1959. Religion: Jewish.
CAREER: Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, NY, part-time secretary and assistant, 1957-59; Coward-McCann, Inc., New York, NY, editorial assistant, 1959-60; Sussman & Sugar (advertising), New York, NY, copywriter, 1960; Bernard Geis Associates (publishers), New York, NY, director of publicity, advertising, and subsidiary rights, 1960-70, vice-president, 1970; Ladies Home Journal, "The Working Woman," columnist, 1971-81; Ms. (magazine), cofounder, 1971, editor, 1971-87, editor at large, 1987-89, "Person to Person," columnist, 1988, contributing editor, 1990-91; New York Times, "Hers," columnist, 1983; Newsday, "In Person," columnist, 1986. Lecturer on family politics, Jewish-feminist issues, and women's issues. Consultant to ABC television program, "Free to Be … You and Me."
MEMBER: Ms. Foundation (board of directors), Authors Guild of America, Americans for Peace NOW, International Center for Peace in the Middle East, New Israel Fund, Jewish Fund for Justice, Commission on Women's Equality, American Jewish Congress, PEN America, Task Force on Women Federation, Public Education Association, Action for Children's Television, National Organization for Women, National Women's Political Caucus (founding member), Authors League of America, Women's Forum.
AWARDS, HONORS: Women in Communications "Sound of Success" Award and Clarion Award, 1974, for Ladies' Home Journal columns; MacDowell Colony fellow, 1979, 1989, 1994, 2000; Matrix Award, 1981; Poynter fellowship, Yale University, 1982; Cummington Colony Arts fellow, 1985; Edna St. Vincent Millay Colony fellow, 1985; Gloria Steinem Women of Vision Award, Ms. Foundation for Women, 1990; Abram L. Sachar medal, Brandeis University, 1994; Women of Valor award, Jewish Fund for Justice, 1997; Woman of Achievement award, North Shore Child and Family Association, 1997; Hannah G. Solomon award, National Council of Jewish Women, 1997; Woman of the Year, Fifty-Plus Expo, 1997; Woman of Distinction award, Kingsborough College, 1998; U.S./Israel Women-to-Women award, 1999; Jewish Heritage Award, 1999; Outstanding Scholars of the Twenty-First Century, 2000; Emmy Award, American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, for "Free to Be … You and Me"; Swedish Bicentennial Award; Israel Bonds Eleanor Roosevelt Award; National Council on Family Relations commendation; National Media award, Family Services Association; distinguished achievement award, Educational Press Association.
How to Make It in a Man's World, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1970.
Getting Yours: How to Make the System Work for the Working Woman, McKay (New York, NY), 1975.
Growing up Free: Raising Your Child in the '80s, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1980.
Stories for Free Children, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1981.
Family Politics: Love and Power on an Intimate Frontier, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1983.
Among Friends: Who We Like, Why We Like Them, and What We Do with Them, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1986.
Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America, Crown (New York, NY), 1991.
Getting over Getting Older: An Intimate Journey, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.
Three Daughters (novel), Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributing editor and writer to Moment Magazine, Family Circle, and Tukkun. Also author of columns "The Working Woman" for Ladies' Home Journal, 1971-81, "Hers" for New York Times, 1983, "In Person," for Newsday, 1986, and "Person to Person," Ms., 1988. Contributor to Nation, TV Guide, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Variety, and other periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Letty Cottin Pogrebin published her first book, How to Make It in a Man's World, a book for women in the workplace on how to survive in the male-dominated world of business, in 1970. The following year the feminist author helped found Ms. magazine. Since then, Pogrebin has authored a number of nonfiction books and has worked as an editor and columnist for several magazines. Her second book, Getting Yours: How to Make the System Work for the Working Woman, teaches women that the world belongs to them just as much as men. The book encourages women to strive for their goals and not settle for anything less.
In addition to her deep-seated feminist views, Pogrebin is strong in her Jewish faith, though it has not always been that way. At the age of fifteen, Pogrebin turned her back on the Orthodox Judaism she grew up with when her father refused to allow her to participate in a funeral service for her mother because she was female. Many years later, Pogrebin overheard anti-Semitic comments made by some women at a feminist conference. Pogrebin, upset by the hurtful words, eventually returned to her faith, and recorded this journey in Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America. The book explains how she combined her feminist and religious beliefs, drawing inspiration from the Old Testament judge, Deborah, and the late prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir. As a Publishers Weekly critic explained, Pogrebin "casts a wide net, chronicling her family history and her feminist and spiritual awakenings and tackling issues that concern Jews and feminists."
Pogrebin's Getting over Getting Older: An Intimate Journey is her personal account of what it is like to reach middle age, from going through menopause and other biological changes to altering her outlook on time and mortality. In the transcript of an online chat on the Power Surge Web site, Pogrebin said, "Getting over Getting Older is a very personal rumination on all aspects of aging. I started it when I was forty-nine and miserable. I'd been young for so long that I had gotten used to it. Then suddenly I realized I have less time left than I've already lived…. I realized how much more important time is than aging. I reframed the whole experience around that epiphany. The book covers everything from existential angst, sex, dieting, and body blues to relationships, work, you name it." Pogrebin explained that she focused a part of the book on death because her mother passed away at age fifty-three. She said, "it made me highly conscious of the fifties as the decade in which my mother's life ended." She continued, "The interesting thing for me has been the process of converting my awareness of death into a cherishing of life. Without acknowledging mortality, we cheat ourselves of the sweetness of time, the preciousness of the present, the wonders of the ordinary. I truly believe that our culture, which is in denial about mortality, has made us into the age-obsessed women many of us are. We deceive ourselves that we can conquer age, when what we really want to conquer is death."
Sarah Coleman wrote in the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California that while the author included what seemed like too much information in some portions of the book, "Pogrebin has a lot to add to the discussion on aging, and she says it with grace and wit…. Reading [the book] won't turn back the clock, but it might just alter your perspective on aging." Booklist's Mary Carroll commented, "It is our mix of obsession and denial Pogrebin aims to dispel, urging readers to age mindfully, rejoice in challenges and surprises, and notice life's precious details."
Following Getting over Getting Older Pogrebin published her debut novel, Three Daughters. The book focuses on the Wasserman sisters: Shoshanna, Rachel, and Leah, who each have a story to tell. Their common bond is their father, Rabbi Sam Wasserman, who returns to New York from Israel to celebrate his ninetieth birthday with his family. Leah is the oldest and an English professor and a feminist. She is also Sam's estranged daughter from his first marriage. Rachel, Sam's stepdaughter whom he adopted when he married Rachel's mother, Esther, is a domestic goddess and mother of five who is watching her life unravel. Shoshanna is the youngest daughter, born to Esther and Sam. Cautious and regimented, Shoshanna plans every aspect of her life in advance, including her father's return and celebration. When Shoshanna loses her daily organizer on the highway, her life is turned upside down. As the celebration nears, the three girls must figure out how to overcome issues with their father, deal with one another, and cope with the problems they all face in their own lives.
Three Daughters received warm reviews from critics. "Pogrebin … offers a dazzling debut novel," wrote Booklist's Margaret Flanagan. "[She] does a superb job of interweaving several complex personal histories into a humorous and heartbreakingly honest family melodrama." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked, "Talky, smart, hopeful, and empathetic, this will be a must-read for Pogrebin's contemporaries." Leah Hochbaum commented on the Pop Matters Books Web site, "The author's dead-on description of the dances families do is both eye-opening and disturbing." Hochbaum continued, "Pogrebin … shows a flair for characterization that many seasoned novelists can't match, but she falls into the trap of many first-time fiction writers—putting her personal politics on the front burner and forcing even the most apolitical of readers to identify with Jewish and feminist ideologies. But it is Pogrebin's gift for dialogue—she infuses each sister's speech with a caustic charm that lends realism to the story—that makes readers want to befriend these three flawed sisters who, though raised apart, grow up together as adults." Curt Schleier, in a review on the Star Tribune Web site, observed, "The book is not flawless…. But on the whole this is a wonderful novel on any terms. That it is a first novel makes it all the more remarkable." "I recommend Three Daughters to you as a deeply engaging read about women who have lived real, full, and entertaining lives," wrote Hilary Williamson on the BookLoons Contemporary Reviews Web site. "Don't miss this one."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Belles Lettres, summer, 1992, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America, p. 48.
Booklist, June 15, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, pp. 1906, 1907; June 1, 1994, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 1799; March 15, 1996, Mary Carroll, review of Getting over Getting Older: An Intimate Journey, p. 1218; September 15, 2002, Margaret Flanagan, review of Three Daughters, p. 208.
Books and Religion, winter, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 11.
Book World, September 8, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 7.
Chicago Tribune, December 5, 1986.
Commentary, January, 1992, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 61.
Commonweal, December 6, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 724.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 848; March 1, 1996, review of Getting over Getting Older, p. 359; August 1, 2002, review of Three Daughters, p. 1069.
Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, January, 1993, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 28.
Library Journal, August, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 106.
Los Angeles Times, October 28, 1980; November 21, 1983.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 3, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 6.
Ms., May, 1996, review of Getting over Getting Older, p. 81.
MultiCultural Review, April, 1992, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 62.
New Directions for Women, November, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 20.
New Republic, June 13, 1970.
New York Times, April 15, 1970; September 22, 1980; February 2, 1986.
New York Times Book Review, October 26, 1980; December 18, 1983; October 20, 1991, review of Debra, Golda, and Me, p. 15; October 25, 1992, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 36.
People, December 9, 2002, Pia Catton Nordlinger, review of Three Daughters, p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, November 21, 1986; August 2, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 58; October 20, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 15; August 17, 1992, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 497; February 26, 1996, review of Getting over Getting Older, pp. 88-89; August 19, 2002, review of Three Daughters, p. 65.
Time, December 20, 1971.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), October 27, 1991, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 7; October 18, 1992, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 10.
Women's Review of Books, January, 1992, review of Deborah, Golda, and Me, p. 7; September, 1996, review of Getting over Getting Older, p. 1.
BookLoons Contemporary Reviews, http://www.bookloons.com/ (January 16, 2003), Hilary Williamson, review of Three Daughters.
J, the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California (formerly the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California), http://www.jewishsf.com/ (August 15, 1997), Sarah Coleman, "Book Review: Feminist's Book Takes a Witty, Hard Look at Middle Age," review of Getting over Getting Older.
Miriam's Cup, http://www.miriamscup.com/ (January 16, 2003), biography of Letty Cottin Pogrebin.
Pop Matters Books, http://www.popmatters.com/ (October 30, 2002), Leah Hochbaum, review of Three Daughters.
Power Surge, http://www.power-surge.com/ (January 16, 2003), transcript of a live chat with Letty Cottin Pogrebin.
Rebeccas Reads, http://www.rebeccasreads.com/ (January 12, 2003), Dr. Alma Bond, review of Three Daughters.
Star Tribune.com, http://www.startribune.com/ (October 20, 2002), Curt Schleier, review of Three Daughters.*