LOS ANGELES – Cool Titles has announced the upcoming publication of Stay With Me, a powerful new memoir by Mikal Gilmore and Elaine Schock. The initial volume in a moving trilogy about life, death, marriage, family, music, cats, and a dog named Indie, Stay With Me, is a remarkable personal testimony of one couple’s devastating but ultimately life-affirming experience. It is also a much- needed survival guide for those struggling with HPV-related cancer, and their loved ones. It is the first major work entirely written from original Facebook posts. Stay With Me will be published as part of Cool Titles fall 2018 catalog.
In September 2015, Gilmore, a legendary music journalist and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for 1994’s extraordinary Shot In The Heart, was diagnosed with HPV-related tongue/throat cancer, Stage Four. The news devastated Gilmore but Schock – a veteran music publicist and founder of Los Angeles-based Schock Ink with an active roster and history that includes Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Billy Joel, Genesis, Sinead O’Connor, and countless other icons – was indomitable, avowing to learn everything she could about her husband’s illness and to be there by his side every step of the way.
Gilmore began an intense treatment regimen, suffering through debilitating radiation and chemotherapy. Along the way, he lost much of his hearing and incurred tinnitus. The development was permanent, and a hard loss for a music journalist. Schock was right there, at every doctor visit, every night at home after the treatments took their terrible toll on her beloved husband.
Gilmore was initially reluctant to share the news with anyone outside their immediate family, especially on Facebook, where he and Schock were part of a large, vital community of friends. Schock, who had been studying the disease and its history, felt differently. She had searched for a local HPV-related cancer support group, but none were to be found. This form of cancer seemed to be largely a secret, often kept hidden due to the shame associated with a disease born of sexual activity. As a result, HPV-related cancers remain underreported, despite the disease continuing to grow in epidemic proportions.
Schock’s dive into understanding HPV-related cancer, its history and its treatments, energized her but the lack of a support group left her feeling desperately alone. Gilmore realized Schock might find the support she needed online and in October 2015, announced his illness on Facebook. Though his daily treatments left him exhausted, he promised to stay active online as much as physically possible.
Schock, however, picked up the slack and began to post every Saturday, updating friends and family on Facebook about Gilmore’s progress. Her posts drew in other survivors, medical professionals, and the curious, with many sharing their own stories and reflections, others sending along unique and sometimes funny gifts. In Facebook, Schock now had a forum to share what she and her family were going though, a safe place to talk about her experience and learn from others about how they struggled and endured. More important ly, she wanted to spread the word about HPV-related cancer. Schock was determined that people saw Gilmore’s illness as a personal tragedy, and understood that HPV-related cancer was a rapidly-spreading concern.
Schock’s writings and the outpouring of support that followed had perhaps an even more potent result, instilling in Gilmore a powerful belief that life is worth fighting for. “It is not enough that we live,” he wrote, “but how we realize the obligation and kindness we owe to the best part of our world-to those who love us or who might still benefit from us.”
That is where Stay With Me begins, with one member of the marriage expecting to die and the other determined that he wouldn’t. Gilmore and Schock’s story is told and newfound knowledge, like any great memoir leavened with revelations and an abundance of hard-won humor.
A leading Rolling Stone journalist since its 1970s heyday, Mikal Gilmore is also the author of Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock & Roll (Knopf, 1999) and Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents (Free Press, 2009). The latter was hailed by the New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani as “a book that leaves the reader with a powerful portrait of the cultural and social tumult of the ’60s and ’70s… (Gilmore) brings to these much-dissected subjects uncommon abilities: a gift for reconjuring the mood of that period in rich, visceral prose, and a knack for limning the connections between the social upheaval abroad in those years and artists’ efforts to explore the possibilities of the newly influential medium of rock ‘n’ roll.”