“Feeding the Rat” by Al Alvarez

I know we all like to climb more than we like to sit around and read, but reading is important in that it provides us with some much-needed time to recover and return to our real passion in between beatings.  I’m reading a book right now about Mo Anthoine, a British climber who coined the phrase “feeding the rat” and a few others that have entered the climbing lingo and stuck.  This book that I’m reading, entitled just that, is a portrait and a biography of Mo Anthione written by Al Alvarez, a New York Times best-selling author, and one of Mo’s climbing partners.  The latest edition was published in 2001, but the original was published long before that.  Mo’s real name was Julian Anthoine, but the nickname “Mo” from the three stooges stuck at a young age and was much more appropriate to his character.

I have to tell you that this is a hard book to put down!  I read over half of it in one sitting yesterday and am likely to finish it today!  And it’s even worth at least one immediate re-read!  That language that Alvarez uses to portray the adventures and life of Mo Anthoine is language familiar to climbers and expresses to the masses what climbers feel.  It offers a glimpse into why we climb, just a hint, and then leaves it to the reader to try if they like.  I enjoy the expressions and phrases about the way climbing feels that I had not ever been able to put into words, but that Alvarez so vividly and succinctly nails in his writing.  As I said, it’s a hard book to put down!  I won’t spoil the meaning of the phrase that the book is titled after for you, either.  You’ll have to read it!

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