I think most people who are regular Linda’s Book Bag visitors know in the last two or three years my husband has had a mini stroke and my Dad has died from a massive one so you’ll understand why I have invited Greg Payan onto the blog to tell me about his book.
If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.
Staying in with Greg Payan
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Greg. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought along, Please Stay, my recently published memoir. It tells the story of my then girlfriend (now wife) who was stricken at the age of 39 by a near fatal brain aneurysm. She endured a Grade IV brain hemorrhage and was brought the hospital with heart and lung failure. Through texts, emails and social media messages, I documented her ordeal of 24 days in the ICU, and her journey to recovery. While the beginning of the book starts out pretty scary, I can assure the reader it does have a happy ending. One person called the book more of a love letter, than an actual memoir.
(I think this is a wonderful way to celebrate a life returned Greg.)
What can we expect from an evening in with Please Stay?
I think the reader will experience a range of emotions, from laughter to tears. I think the book is very unique in that it’s a memoir told in real time as things were happening and my wife was battling for her life. Since so much communication happens through texts and e-mails these days, when she eventually recovered two years after her bleed, I had a diary of everyone I was in correspondence with the entire time. The notes were not just updating friends of her condition, but because my wife was a teacher, she had beautiful letters from former students and friends about how she impacted their lives, letting her know she was not allowed to die yet in notes that I read at her bedside in her various states of consciousness.
(I’m sure those messages must have helped her recovery too.)
I love reading the reviews that have been published because as with any form of art, you put it out there because you’re proud of it, but you wonder if others are truly moved by your story. Some of the reviews have really validated what I thought was a really interesting book. One review I liked noted that the book “calls readers to question their own legacies and to celebrate their lives and the love of the people in them,” but I think my favorite review was “Please Stay grabs you immediately with its raw vulnerability and humor sprinkled throughout such an uncertain time in this couple’s life. This story will challenge you on every page. Not just by compelling you to reflect on life’s biggest themes of death and love – but also a hundred micro reflections nestled in between.”
(You must be so pleased with those reader responses Greg.)
When you put something out there that moves people, I think that’s succeeding. I hope I did that with Please Stay.
What else have you brought along and why?
I have brought a large glass of red wine which is how I like to unwind at the end of a long day. I think some background music is needed as I’m not a fan of reading in total silence. I’d probably put on some Eva Cassidy or some Cassandra Wilson.
(That was clever as I don’t drink ordinary wine so you won’t have to share. I love your taste in music though.)
Lastly, I’ve also brought along this great photo of my wedding day. Holly and I dated for over 10 years before her aneurysm ruptured. Once she was well enough, she immediately wanted to get married, although she never did before. Almost 5 months to the day after her bleed we went to City Hall and got married. A photographer friend took this photo which hangs in our living room next to my reading chair that I look at and give thanks to every day.
Oh my goodness. What a glorious photo. I’m so pleased life has worked out for you now. Thanks so much for explaining the inspiration for Please Stay Greg. I hope it does really well for you.
Please Stay is the story of a healthy 39-year old college professor struck down by a sudden, near fatal brain aneurysm. After a short prologue, the book begins as Holly wakes up with a debilitating headache as readers feel the panic in those initial moments of confusion before a brain bleed is diagnosed at the hospital. Readers learn about her through letters sent by close friends and former students, who sent memories to be read at her bedside while she was on a respirator, fighting for her life, about the impact she had on their lives. They plead with her not to die through their words and share what she means to them.
Please Stay is both an extremely compelling story and an interesting story-telling methodology. A multiple-perspective take on a life-threatening situation, it documents love and luck in a hospital in New York in a real-time narrative as things unfolded. The story is told through actual correspondence which updated friends, colleagues and loved ones through long emails at the end of each of 24 ICU days; text messages sent back and forth to Holly’s sister as things unfolded; and photos documenting events as Holly fought to live. The reader experiences the fears and prayers of Holly’s loved ones who come to the realization that she may eventually recover but be left compromised, potentially losing her writing and teaching career and altering irrevocably her myriad relationships.
Please Stay is a book that one person described as ‘more of a love letter at times, than a standard memoir.’ Another noted that it is ‘honest, vulnerable and unflinching.’ It’s a unique story of love and survival that speaks to people across boundaries of health and wellness. It’s a story of faith and hope and love. Replete with tender anecdotes, the book calls readers to question their own legacies and to celebrate their lives and the love of the people in them.
Please Stay is available for purchase here.
About Greg Payan
Greg Payan was born and raised in Queens, NY. While currently working full time as a journalist, fate intervened when his then partner, now wife, was struck by a sudden brain hemorrhage. He detailed the health crisis in his memoir, Please Stay (2018), his only full-length book. Employing actual correspondence which updated friends, colleagues and loved ones through long emails at the end of each of 24 ICU days; text messages sent back and forth to family as things unfolded; and photos documenting events as they happened the reader experiences the fears and prayers of all involved in a medical crisis.