Read Richard McKenna’s nonfiction and you will find that he seemed to go out of the way to find the unusual person. While at Guam, for example, he met a very old man by the name Henry Millechamp, who “was the first child born in a mixed British and American colony which had settled about 1830 on the previously unclaimed and uninhabited Bonin Islands, north of Guam.” McKenna’s description of his search for information on the colony on the Bonin Islands is an intriguing exposition on these little known, but interesting islands.
Because of his limited income, McKenna sought out secondhand bookstores. Many such stores were in Shanghai and other Asian ports. “It became one of my chief pleasures ashore,” he said, “to search out books and to look at a great many of them and to decide slowly which ones, with prices within my reach, would afford me the most enjoyment.” He carried this love of shopping for used books throughout his life. One publicity photograph of McKenna shows him at his typewriter, with a background of shelves of books, all of which seemed to be used.