Dan Shurley at 3:AM Magazine:
Murnane’s most compelling writing orbits around what he fails to express in life, what he cannot bring himself to say, what he has repressed. Even the faintest whiff (or glimpse, as it were) of sexuality carries a vestigial sense of shame and sinfulness for the writer. While some of his tenderest work concerns the men in his life (see also “Stream System”), some of his most unsettling work is rooted in his fear of ridicule by women, and his deeply ingrained aversion to direct expressions of sexuality, a hangover from his pious Catholic upbringing. Without this buried disquiet, Murnane’s serene ekphrasis of the contents of his mind might be insufferably tedious. In the quintessential Murnane story the narrator’s game of presenting blurred, half-remembered images that hint at a deeper subtext before gradually bringing them into focus, culminates in the narrator discovering something about himself that could only have been revealed by those images, further clarifying and strengthening the connections between the images in his image system. When it works, as it does the title piece and a few others, the result can be transcendent, the reader’s patience and sustained focus is rewarded.