“Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades is a gem that combines literary scholarship, Northwest history and a dash of Zen Buddhism into a coffee-table book that is a visual stunner, thanks to Suiter’s photographs.”
—The Portland Oregonian, Top 10 Books of 2002.
“Suiter comes up with something that most recent studies of the Beat poets don’t — original research and a fresh perspective. Forsaking Beat’s urban geographies, Suiter takes to the Zen-like solitude and fierce natural world that these poets sought in their summers as fire watches in the American West. Beautifully published, with photo-graphs Suiter both took and assembled, it’s the one Beat book of the year worth owning —and reading.”
—Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix, Top Non-Fiction Picks, 2002.
“Nothing in recent years has made a greater contribution to the understanding of the Beats as nature writers than Suiter’s book.”
—Timothy Rutten, Los Angeles Times
“Poets on the Peaks is a landmark work, compelling in word and image.”
—Steve Heilig, The San Francisco Chronicle
“…a fresh, engaging chronicle of a gateway period in American cultural life, the rise of the beats…The book works best not as a chronicle, although it does that well, nor as a set of mini-biographies but as a reminder that the twin of the active life is the contemplative one.”
—National Geographic Adventure
“This is a very cool book. Buy it. Read it. Let its story sink in, slowly, with appreciation, like watching a mountain at sunup. It is a scholarly book about the connections between people, places, cultures (and culture), politics, religion, scholarship, wilderness, mountains, rivers, poetry, literature, ecology, community, environment and revelation. It is full of information, insight, inspiration, history and wisdom.”
—Dick Dorworth, The Mountain Gazette
“John Suiter has mined letters, journals and extensive interviews to recreate that time. His evocation of the North Cascades landscape in words and some 50 black-and-white photographs is detailed and authentic. He presents a fascinating look into the formative years of two major American poets [Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen], and a brief glimpse into a rare, golden time for Kerouac, a gifted novelist before his long plunge into self-destruction.
“Suiter has paid poetic homage to the work of these three writers and to the timeless landscape that inspired them. Pilgrims take note: The trails up Sourdough, Crater and Desolation mountains are likely to become a bit more crowded.”
—Tim McNulty, The Seattle Times
“When we think of the Beat generation and its literary icons, we think, mainly, of urban scenes: raucous poetry readings, sparsely-furnished lofts, cosmopolitan coffeehouses, smoky jazz joints and bars … thus has the myth of this generation been sculpted, when, in fact, nature and the natural world played a major role in the formation of the lives and minds of many of this movement’s major poets. Nowhere has this nature-based perspective been magnified more telescopically than in Boston photographer and writer John Suiter’s book Poets on the Peaks.”
—Tom Crowe, Bloomsbury Review
“a sensitive and beautifully crafted account of those times.”
—Joel Connelly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“John Suiter has yanked Jack Kerouac off the barstool, stranded him far from urban bustle and the road.”
—Dave Perry, The Lowell Sun
“Suiter, a Boston-based writer and photographer who began his research in 1995, delivers his literary history in lucid prose that’s grounded in solid research. He’s not an academic but an enthusiast who climbed and wandered the mountains he writes about, and this, along with the photographs he both took and assembled, gives his book its character.”
“Suiter’s book is rich with a sense of adventure, and his photographs—as well as those he includes from the National Park Service and other sources—put you there. The views have more grit than what you’d see in an Ansel Adams photograph, and you can easily imagine the splendor and the scariness of such isolation.”
“If this book introduces you to Philip Whalen and his work, you are a lucky reader.”
—William Corbett, Boston Phoenix
“…Suiter has done a yeoman’s job of pulling together the essential Pacific Northwest-Woodsman-Zen Buddhist strain of the beat movement in his fine book Poets on the Peaks…an essential wave in literature and East-West thought has been recorded at last.”
—Larry Smith, Columbus Dispatch
“Suiter’s exquisite photos are worth the price of the book and provide a type of meditation in themselves.”
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