By Alyce Wilson
Nectar Fragments, according to the book jacket, is a collection
of short stories. But really, it's a comprehensive work, a novel, if
you will, where each chapter could stand on its own. There are a few
unrelated short stories in the first section, but otherwise, they all
The stories, or chapters, describe the life of a fictional Canadian
suburb, Nectar, chronicling how lives are changed when an unassuming
young man named Brian comes to town.
Brian functions almost like a psychological Rorschach test, where his
flat affect is assumed by various residents to denote one thing or another.
Before long, he embodies some of their deepest fears and desires.
Insisting that each chapter must be able to stand on its own, author
Michael Hoffman nonetheless weaves a rich tapestry of cross-references,
details and characterization. As the book introduces new characters,
they seem at first unrelated. But eventually, it becomes clear how each
and every story is connected, with Brian forming the calm eye of a storm
that whirls through the community, a catalyst for change.
In a previous collection of short stories, The Empty Cafe, Michael
Hoffman demonstrated the ability to develop plot and narrative. Nectar
Fragments is the culmination of that promise.
While each individual story may comprise a fragment of the whole, taken
together, they form a multihued portrait of a community.
AuthorHouse, 2006 (ISBN: 1-4259-1386-5)