Reviews: True Crime, A Flush-Tank Read, and Surf Legends

Literary material and last-minute stocking-stuffers.

Light / Dark

The Coyote’s Bicycle

by Kimball Taylor

Tin House Books

In this meticulously investigated—and gorgeously written—true-crime tome, longtime TSJ and Surfer scribe Kimball Taylor prowls the coastal U.S./Mexican frontier to tell the story of “El Indio” and his fleet of seven thousand “border bicycles.” In the process, he reconstructs the rise of one of Tijuana’s most innovative coyotes, and tracks the bikes themselves as they’re used to ferry pollos into California and then cycled onward through the black market, Hollywood, the prison system, and even the military-industrial complex. With his eye for the humorous, the outrageous, and the various details of ground-level humanity—a gift that has always served him well in his surf reportage—Taylor delivers an improbable, yet true, tale that speeds along like a BMX from El Indio’s quiver. —Alex Wilson

The Surf Sting: Travels with Miki Dora and Don Wilson

by Linda Cuy

Blue Sea Publishing

Told in a lightly confounding third-person voice, this autobiography of the single person most deeply imbedded with Miki Dora during his International Years is catnip to those fascinated with Da Cat’s story. Linda Cuy, a core, lifelong surfer by anybody’s reckoning, displays an enviable—if occasionally unbelievable—recollection for dialogue. The introduction of Don Wilson, a lovable sneak-thief with expensive tastes, lends emotional complexity and the third leg of this global ménage a trois. Cuy portrays herself as an understandably naïve young adventurer, but the reader soon watches her develop into a street-smart border jumper who can hold her own with some very sophisticated, exceedingly manipulative hombres. This tale is insider, surf-smart, and with broad appeal, from the Y.A. reader in your house to your S.O., to…you. —Scott Hulet

The Return of Gonad Man

by Mark Sutherland

Paper Horse Graphic

One part Jonathan Swift, one part underground comic, Sutho’s insatiable compulsion toward surf culture critique reaches its zenith with this softbound digest of hilarity and filth. Beginning as a strip in the Andrew Kidman-edited Waves magazine, Gonad Man quickly became a beloved—and feared—figure in the Aussie surf consciousness. “Sutho could say whatever he wanted in Gonad Man,” writes Kidman in the foreword. “Being a cartoon, it had almost unlimited license to ridicule the people and events of the day.” The bigger they are, the harder Gonad thrusts; Kelly Slater manages to find himself in the crosshairs more often than most, and even this august publication is—obliquely—whipped and pickled. Fun stuff, and a natural accouterment for the flush tank in your place of refuge. —S.H.