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University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy (Authorhouse , J. Peters 2019), The Second Editon

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To get right to it, I always felt University on Watch was unfinished. I am also a writer who believes in delivering information as fast as possible. Most of the blog posts which became chapters in the book were assembled to go, and the book was erected as soon as the story met my expectations in providing the reader something as vivid as it was valuable in scholarship.

The first edition left critical areas of the narrative absent. These aspects of University on Watch simply weren’t available to dispense just yet. Some might say I held back. Others would argue that I didn’t have the language to speak to the events I was considering to add to the book. My rationale, at the root of it, was simple. The novella released in March was constructed only for temporary and initial consumption by the reader. This version was meant to guide and orient the reader until the final version of the book was completed.

If I had released the polished full length version in March when pressed to offer more chapters the wellspring of material would have been depleted. Most of all, the material and density of the final version is far to rich for the reader to consume in one sitting. You can call it what you want, I did the reader a favor and assisted everyone in the controlled distribution of what I believe is a story far to bold to process at the length required to capture all the events the full version of the book has within its pages.

The book even adds a character, and brings back a familiar name from Small Fingernails. Yes, this book connects the dots in a way the original novella only gestures to, but never quite takes the leap. In a few short months, this second edition will be available to the general public and the the original novella will be a first edition keepsake. Hold on to it, cherish its initial and lasting impact that called upon you to read more of Jacques Peters and his friends in New London University. There, in the city of Liberty, we learn the true meaning of oppression, injustice, and the will make the impossible, possible.

I couldn’t be more proud of the full length, polished complete version of University on Watch. Over thirty percent of the writing is new, other chapters, have been refitted and reconfigured for optimal reading for the benefit of the reader. Key elements and themes have been strengthened, and a signature chapter, titled none other than. “University on Watch” lets the reader to re-imagine the entire storyline in one mountaintop experience in literature.

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.

Purchase University on Watch on Amazon.com

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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