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Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the Cascades Hardcover – April 16, 2002

5.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Suiter is a Boston-based freelance photographer and writer whose work has appeared in numerous national and international magazines over the last ten years. He lives and works in Boston, where he is an instructor at the New England School of Photography.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582431485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582431482
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,164,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Ian McIntyre on November 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
John Suiter's work on the founding fathers of Beat poetry and prose is a marvelous read. Suiter takes us along the trail through post war America and ties together the Beat poets, Jack Kerouac, McCarthyism, San Francisco and the North Cascades Forest Service Fire Lookout system of the 1950's. Imagine the poet/Zen Buddhist Gary Snyder being blacklisted from working for the Forest Service! Do you want to know how Jack Kerouac got the idea for his Dharma Bums work? What was it like spending a month and a half completely alone on top of a mountain in the Pacific Northwest, looking for the telltale smoke of a developing forest fire? Do you know what a "lightning stool" is, what you do with it and would you like to see a photograph of one? What was it like being at the famous Six Gallery poetry reading in 1955 when Allen Ginsberg first read "Howl"? If these questions interest you, or if you want to know about the origins of Beat writings-this is the book to get. Author Suiter launches the reader away through Old Mexico to visit with young Robert Mitchum as Christ in a glass coffin and William "Junky" Burroughs, up through Yosemite to camp with Kerouac and Snyder, a stop in San Francisco at City Lights Bookstore and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and finally Japan and Hozomeen, and the Void from Desolation. A delightful Masterpiece of fact and photographs!
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Format: Hardcover
Writer-photographer Suiter provides a literary portrait of Beat era poets Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Jack Kerouac in Poets On The Peaks, which centers around their early experiences as fire lookouts in the 1950s. As such, Poets On The Peaks provides a hard book to easily categorize: it covers beautiful Cascade Mountain scenes and peaks, fire lookouts, and literature and biography alike. The writings of these three juxtapose nicely with the photos and images, making this a recommended gift choice for the holiday season.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In his first book, John Suiter has produced a work that contributes significantly to the literature on early development of the Beat literary movement and to understanding the disparate characters of Snyder, Whalen, and Kerouac. Using the common experience of all three men serving as fire lookouts in the Northern Cascades in the early to mid 1950's, the author evokes portraits of how each writer was influenced by wilderness and the isolation of a fire lookout, and how each used the experience in his work. Drawing from recent interviews with Snyder and Whalen and others who knew them during the early 1950's, from previously unpublished letters and journals, and from extensive close readings of all three writers, the author crafts a portrait of the evolution of a literary movement, of a wilderness ethic, and perhaps unintentionally, the devolution of Kerouac contrasted against the focus and dedication of Snyder and Whalen. The book is illustrated with photographs of the fire lookouts and their locales.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is large and strong, with beautiful pictures of the Cascades. It is also filled with stories about and interviews with Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Jack Kerouac from their younger days. It helped to fill in some blanks for me on what helped make them the men they became.
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Format: Hardcover
"Poets on the Peaks" by John Suiter is a beautiful and insightful book. The text and pictures hold your hand through wonderful reminiscing with and about some of the greatest poets of our time. The landscapes that inspired the poetry that Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Jack Kerouac are famous for is staged perfectly throughout the book. It gives you a sense of time and place that makes you feel as if you were in those look out towers and you experienced that electric and quiet time. Learn, escape, and love with this book. It is well worth it!
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