Item #155 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this hardcover 2002 Counterpoint edition (1st printing) of Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades by John Suiter. 340 pages, it measures about 8-1/2" by 10-1/2" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that I received it as a gift from my great friend, Richard Marsh.
I don't know how to do this book justice with a written description. It is beautifully conceptualized, beautifully rendered, beautifully photographed, and beautifully written. Substitute for beautifully adverbs like exquisitely and masterfully and wonderfully and you get some sense of how much I love this book.
Poets on the Peaks is the story of Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, and Jack Kerouac focused around their time as fire lookouts in the North Cascades in the 1950s. Suiter hiked to all of the relevant lookouts and took pictures, interviewed Snyder, Whalen and others, and relied on previously unpublished letters and journals to tell the story of these three poets in the context of their common experiences in the great outdoors. But it's more than that. It's also about their lives together and as poets, about the Six Gallery reading, about The Dharma Bums years, about Jack's Buddhism, and so on.
I can't say enough about this book. It is a straight-through engaging read as well as a gorgeous book to thumb through. If I had to take 10 books with me to a desert island for a year, this would likely be on the list. If this isn't already on your Kerouac bookshelf, what are you waiting for?
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Below is a picture of Shelf #5 (last one!) of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (9th from the top of the pile) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Surviving on the Streets: How to go DOWN without going OUT by Ace Backwords.
|Shelf #5 of my Kerouac bookshelf|