Have We Finally Gotten True Dora Insight with “All for a Few Perfect Waves”?

The recently released work by David Rensin is perhaps the closest the general public, or anyone for that matter will ever get to the “real” Miki Dora. The surf world at large has maintained a decades-long fascination, and has been waiting to read, to feel, to know just what, and just who this man was. Larger than life in both a public sense and narcissistic/sociopathic self-importance sense, he singlehandedly defined so many things that still resonate within real surfers and their general approach to life and the World today.

“All for a Few Perfect Waves” doesn’t strive to actually get us inside Miki’s head to gain clarity on his true self. Rensin knew better than to try for that, since it isn’t possible. Miki’s essence has always been, and will forever remain well protected. His ever-present approach to living the way he felt comfortable, which was to say with a high degree of privacy and privilege, kept him moving forward searching for his blissful surfing home, something he lost in Malibu many moons ago.

Never having written an oft talked about autobiography, Dora and the company he kept were put in the hands of Rensin, with the approval of Dora’s father. Rensin had written an article on Dora in the eighties for California Magazine, and although the piece was directly criticized by Dora himself, Rensin became the natural choice to compile the final closure on the man that in no small part defined surf culture, but will never be known. Dora’s father, Miklos Sr. gave Rensin approval since he felt that the California Magazine piece chronicled Miki fairly, so Rensin was again entrusted to be fair, thorough and as objective as possible.

This work does a terrific job of sorting out the players and themes in Dora’s life, but alas, readers get no closer to Miki than they were before. Isn’t that just the way he would want it? After all “The story on Miki Dora is getting the story on Miki Dora.” All for a Few Perfect Waves is very evocative and well written; nearly compulsory reading for real surfers.

AFAFPW

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

-Jeff Schad

4 Replies to “Have We Finally Gotten True Dora Insight with “All for a Few Perfect Waves”?”

  1. Jeff: Thanks for mentioning the book. Yes, Dora remains a mystery, and the book’s stated intent was not to solve the mystery but to bring to life a new and fresh picture of Dora by talking to more than 300 people on five continents who knew him. The book was not billed as the closest anyone would ever get … never say never, I say. But for now, closer than previous. And if one reads Miki’s letters (included), as well two unpublished interviews, I think that adds clarity as well. For the record, while Dora criticized my story, his criticism was sort of self serving, chiding me for not getting a more complete story when he himself made the cooperation of others difficult. And yet, he liked the story enough to carry it with him until he died, and to want to be involved in a possible movie project based on it — which of course never happened. In the end, as I say in the book, I didn’t do the book to figure out Miki; mystique is organic to Miki and I left much intact. My goal was simply to give readers the experience of being with him as reflected by others, and to let you take the wild ride that was Miki.
    Thanks again for the nice notice. /DR

  2. David – thank you for your well-taken personal insight into “All for a few Perfect Waves”. I feel that your work will go down in history as something very special, and I hold it in very high esteem. Hopefully you don’t feel that my review detracted from your efforts or methods by which he manipulated writers and the media. This is a great book and I hope to steer many people to read it.

  3. Jeff
    I take no issue with your review. But I know how complex Miki’s story is, so if I can throw some extra light on a readers reaction, I will … but as always, I stand by readers judging for themselves because the book has to stand on its own.

  4. Although I haven’t read the book yet, I did know Dora. Also, my friend Gerry Kantor reviewed it told me it’s accurate. The more I hear, the more it sounds like a story that I should read.

    Snake

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