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When I first read University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy in March, I was more than satisfied with the level of scholarship the author, J. Peters, invested into his book. In fact, I believed I was reading literary history unfold (as Jacques, the main character would put it) with each turn of the page. However, after J. Peters went ahead and published a second edition of the book with Authorhouse in October, I suspected I was in for a real treat.
Indeed, the full length story is grafted seamlessly onto the original novella, without creasing the prior narrative or denaturing its original message. The preface identifies the work as a novella based on the author’s struggle to make sense out of himself, his experiences, his goals and his relationships while dealing with his challenges with his mental health while he was still in his university.
The narrative in the whole book reads more like a memoir though relating snippets of the writer’s experience side-by-side his reflections of what happened. It tells more than it shows thus, it comes across as a work of creative non-fiction.
Memoirs are always tricky because very few writers have been successful in relaying very personal information and insights to a greater reading public. In this book, the experiences are, of course, personal and extremely impactful to an audience with or without a major mental health disorder. The tone often shifts from the narrative, to reflections, to lexical instructions. WIth this said, is this presentation a creative non-fiction narrative or a story? This new edition only pushes this question further into the literary enigmas of modern literature.
In terms of the language, the writing is impeccable. The sequencing is highly logical and more questions lingering from the first version of the book are answered, only to pose more questions for the reader to reflect on as the book unfolds.
Furthermore, the narrative has the potential to appeal to readers who may also be struggling in finding their way out of their mental conditions before they become a damaging life crisis.
Ultimately, I recommend new reading of University on Watch. Unquestionably enhanced and refined, this book offers more to the reader in terms of content with added chapters, new characters, and even more depth than the original work. If you enjoy the writing of J. Peters, be sure to add this to your list of must reads in mental health literature.
Image credit: Mental Health Affairs