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Mike Clement (Gloucester, UK)

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All For A Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora
All For A Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora
by David Rensin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "the greatest surfer that ever lived", 14 May 2008
Miki Dora spent his life looking for the perfect wave.

Dora has been described as the greatest surfer that ever lived. Even after his death his nickname of "Da Cat" still appears grafittied on the wall of a Malibu Beach. For twenty years the dashing and dark Dora dominated the emerging California surf culture of the fifties. A rebel to the core, Dora was graceful and aggressive on wave and land (hence being called Da Cat). He was worshipped for his style and attitude; he was cursed for his methods of maintaining his idyllic lifestyle - scamming and even stealing his friend's credit cards if he had to.

Then Hollywood crashed the beach party with the Gidget movies. Suddenly every Dick and Jane wanted to surf and the money grabbing surf industry moved in. Eden was now over for Miki and he fled America disillusioned, the FBI hot on his tail for a string of fraud charges. Thus began a world tour in search of the perfect wave before Dora was forced to return to the US to spend a year in jail. Following his release he lived out his life in places such as New Zealand, France and South Africa, leaving a trail of awe and deceit until he finally returned to California to die of cancer.

David Rensin, an experienced and accomplished US journalist who has interviewed and written on just about everyone in Hollywood has done fine research with hundreds of people who knew and had contact with Dora over his life and Rensin lets them tell the story of this enigmatic character.

It's a book not just about surfing and a surfer. It's a story about a birth and death of a culture, of someone who is not prepared to sell out to the system no matter what the cost.

The book describes Miki's many alleged exploits that include stunt doubling Elvis Presley in a movie, mooning the judges at a surf contest, snogging Barbara Streisand at a Hollywood party, buying jewellery with a stolen cheque book in South America, spending time in the same prison as serial killer Charles Manson, turning down film and book offers, looking for uncut diamonds in South West Africa and sending "a friend" some his excrement in the post.

I read the book because I'm a surfer but the man's audacious life was so beyond the bounds of what most of us would consider normal it would interest many readers beyond the beach and board.

Hollywood seems to think so. They bought the film rights of the book before it was released and Leonardo de Caprio is planned to play the charming and cheating Miki Dora in the same spirit as Catch Me if You Can. The movie could succeed on a big scale. Miki's life was a story rich with character, conflict and climax and even an unexpected twist at the end.

Miki may not have found the perfect wave of heaven but he had one hell of a time searching for it.


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