Every Monday, the Chronicle fires 10 questions at a Whanganui local. This week Ethan Griffiths talks to owner of Whanganui's Patrick's Bookshop, Pat McKenna.
How did you get into bookselling?
This is my third store. I was an antique dealer and then about 12 years ago I started getting into books again. I've always had an interest in books; one of my first jobs when I left school was as a book dealer, working for Oxford University Publishing. I just wanted something to do and started dealing in books. Eventually I got my pension and figured you don't need a lot of money to do it.
What's your favourite thing to do in Whanganui?
The thing I love about Whanganui is the art. I love the river, that's one of my favourite things. I belong to the music club and I belong to both theatres, so I'm always involved with those things. I love artistic endeavour, I love the architecture, I just love Whanganui, it's a beautiful town.
You're at home on a cold winters night. What are you going to cook?
Probably a vegetarian meal. I eat a little bit of meat but I'm about 90 per cent vegetarian.
It'd be some sort of falafel-based curry type of thing. Something hearty with lots of vegetables.
What is the most incredible place you've ever travelled?
Probably Transkei in Africa. You fly into Durban and you head down south about an hour and you come across what was called the homelands. I went there and saw things I never believed I would see. I saw poverty in its extremes, but I saw hope. I saw happiness. I saw walls with "kill a white man a day" written on them. Remarkable things like this.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Just be yourself. Don't listen to the world, the world has got it wrong. Just decide that what you want to do is what you want to do. And whatever it is, it's possible. If I went back again I'd pursue arts more.
If you were to meet three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
I'd like to meet Bob Dylan. He'd be one of my top picks. I guess I'd kind of like to meet John Steinbeck - he's a writer. I kind of like his sensibility. I'd like to meet some of the old mystics, someone like Abdu'l-Baha or someone like that.
What's your favourite book and why?
Well funny thing. It's a curious little book and often changes. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It's a little vignette of life in Paris. It's inspirational, philosophical, very whimsical, doesn't have any depth but is a beautiful little snapshot of what's going on.
What three musical artists do you listen to the most?
Bob Dylan definitely. I've always appreciated Dylan for his musical worth. Taj Mahal too. I like blues, I'm a blues man. And funnily enough, Keb' Mo', who's another one.
If you weren't here selling books in Whanganui, what would you be doing?
I'd be selling books somewhere else in all honesty. I can never stop. I might be doing art or something. I'd have to be doing something. I've always got ideas of what can be done and I think if I was 30 years younger I'd probably pursue it. I wouldn't mind studying again. I find philosophy fascinating.
If you weren't living in Whanganui, where would you be living?
I'd like to live in the Northern Territory in Australia. It's always warm. I find Australia fascinating. But I'd also like to live in Paris.
But to be honest, Whanganui is just about the pick of it.