New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual 2010

ARTS, Books
Public Address writer David Haywood’s laugh-out-loud satire.

From Peter Dunne’s girl-on-girl fantasy, to the numerous adventures of Alan Bollard, to an acknowledgement thanking “the real governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in anticipation of his not suing me over the contents of this book,” David Haywood’s New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual 2010 (Public Address Books, NZ$25) is a laugh-out-loud satire. Part of its hilarity derives from its sheer stupidity; the character of Bollard is nigh on antithetical to the real Bollard. That in itself is a simple and obvious comic device, but what Haywood does with it is what makes this ‘annual’ so funny. “Look, I promise I’ll never—y’know—make you an accessory to murder again.”

I guess if I knew anything about comedy, I’d be able to place this in the university capping review tradition, but having never seen a capping review, I can’t be sure—though it certainly corresponds to my idea of them. Either way, it’s bloody funny smartarsery, with a madcap, kind-of-but-not-really social/political commentary. Not only are there games, stories, poems, and pictures, but there’s also a song—‘The Ballad of Toshihiko Fukui’—arranged for ukulele (but which sounds okay on guitar too), and may even contain some true facts.

In his reply to my blagging email Haywood said, “I don’t know if you’ll learn much about economics,” and well, he was right. But I haven’t had this much fun not learning economics since high school. While there may be a lack of useful economic information, there is, amongst other things, a handy guide to carrying out an emergency tracheotomy on yourself. So the book is not entirely devoid of useful information—if you’re stupid enough to follow this Dr. Bollard’s advice.

Being an annual, which don’t seem to be as popular as they once were, the book’s design harks back to the kid’s annuals of the 1960s/70s. The illustrations, by Haywood, are suitably apt, functionally monochromatic, and the overall design is pretty un-contemporary—in a good way. As a bonus, the text is nice and big for those of us with failing eyesight.

The New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual 2010 was released just in time for Christmas last year, but for one reason and another my review got lost somewhere in cyberspace. Suffice to say, this book is the perfect (Christmas) gift for the person who has everything, for the person who has a penchant for ridiculously stupid humour, or for the Reserve Banker in your family. It’s also a great book to get for free. Thanks David, and apologies for the wait.

‘New Zealand Reserve Bank Annual 2010’ is available from publicaddressbooks.com.