Wild on Books - Book Reviews



All For a Few Perfect Waves
The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora

David Rensin















Harper Entertainment

Release Date:
April 8, 2008



Bookmark Rating:
3 1/2 Bookmarks!

Reviewed by
G. Greenleaf

Review Posted:
October 2008


Surfing god. Maverick. Eccentric. Ne’er-do-well. Legend in his own time—and beyond. 

In All for a Few Perfect Waves many facets of a single person come to light as author David Rensin recounts the enigmatic life of surfer extraordinaire Miki “Da Cat” Dora. 

Dora was known for his on-water mastery of the waves as well as his unique personality and on-land antics to boot (showing up at the beach in a full-length black leather Nazi trench coat and World War I aviator goggles and helmet, stealing movie cameras from the film set of Gidget, vengefully unleashing a jarful of moths at a movie screening, etc).  

Another reason Dora also stood out from his contemporaries was because throughout his life he refused to participate in the commercialization of the sport he loved so much—even though he could’ve easily foregone periods of destitution when he lived out of vans.  

Dora’s life is told from the perspective of approximately three hundred people who knew him and present detailed recollections. Here, rather than a sentence or a short quotation as most biographies provide, the reader is granted a kaleidoscopic vision of a man as each contributor saw him at various stages: quiet, moody son, unenthusiastic schoolboy, self-proclaimed King of Malibu, petty thief, paranoid doomsayer, self-imposed exile, fraud, man-on-the-run, convict, etc.  

A survivor and a scammer during his life, Dora never really had a job. Instead, he lived off of handouts from his parents well into middle age—and illegal activities that would eventually make him an international fugitive for several years. Yet, however he supported himself it never seemed to matter to Dora, who most times in this biography comes across as aloof and unconscionable. 

Mirroring Dora’s own growth and development, Waves also relates the rise of modern surfing culture in California and how it evolved from a leisure activity of “kooks” to become a multi-million-dollar-a-year industry that marketed not only surfboards but a laidback West Coast consciousness—from the Gidget movies, to the Beach Boys music catalog to Mattel’s Malibu Barbie—to the world. 

In all, ALL FOR A FEW PERFECT WAVES does an apt job of presenting the life of surfing’s bad boy, warts and all. Though Dora went out of his way to guard his privacy (he often sued publications that would run photos or unapproved stories about him, wore a plastic mask to hide his face from photographers and once signed an autograph using invisible ink for a persistent fan), readers will come away with enough distinct impressions of the subject depending on their point of views.  

Indeed, surfing enthusiasts will appreciate reading about the man, the myth and his born-to-surf style. Others may value his independent streak: as a person who, though often tempted, never compromised his own principles by “selling out” or living the way one is expected, no matter what the cost. Skilled surfer and individualism aside, others might just regard him as a dislikable, disreputable beach bum who apparently never cared for anything besides his own self interests and the waves he spent so much time communing with.



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