Why “Feeding the Rat” is such a great book

Feeding the Rat, the latest copyright date being 2001, is a book authored by Al Alvarez.  The book is about climbing, of course, but it’s about much more than that.  It’s about a climber named Julian “Mo” Anthoine and his philosophy of life in general.  The book goes into great detail about plenty of juicy portraits of various expeditions, both large and small, and in various locations around the world.  That’s great.  What makes this book truly great, though, is the insight into Mo’s mind and the way he thinks about things.  For one thing, the guy knew he would suffer and how to suffer in such a way that he could look back on the experience and feel joy in the fond memories of the journey.  He wasn’t interested in the summit.  The summit was there, of course, but that wasn’t the point for him.  There were many other things that Mo Anthoine got out of alpine climbing and mountaineering besides summits.  They were life lessons, and he lived his life in an extraordinarily humble, yet confident manner, with a good dose of humor throughout.  This book takes you through the adventure and the thought process that goes with the adventure both, and it will not only make you want to grab your climbing gear and get outside, but during those quiet moments that you have, you’ll find yourself reading this book over and over again on top of it all.  I would recommend two copies of this book – one to keep for good and one to highlight, underline, dogear, and carry with you wherever you go, because you’ll find yourself missing it if you don’t have it with you!  Just my opinion.  Many thanks to Lou Renner, who recommended this book to me!

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