Reading while sleeping

From Orfeo (2014) by Richard Powers, an amazing description of reading while on the verge of falling asleep.

  He took up the open book, and once again, for another night, he trained his mind to settle in and read. It took some time to build up a rhythm. The sense of concentrated elsewhere filled him with that primal pleasure: seeing through another’s eyes. But after some paragraphs, a clause swerved and slid him sideways into a drift, a soft passage several pages on, in the middle of the right-hand page, a sense-rich description of a man and woman walking down a street in Boston on a July night, reprised, in misty da capo, again and yet once more, his eyes making their closed circuit, hitting the right margin’s guardrail, looping back around and trying the line again, tracking along the circuit of text, slowing then slipping down the stripped cogway of slick subordinate clauses, retrying the sequence until his dimming sight again found traction — the man, the woman, a moment of regretful truth along the esplanade — before snagging and starting the fuzzy looping climb all over again.

At last, after who knows how many round trips, he jerked awake. And the words on the page, before Els’s now-focused but disbelieving eyes, marshaled like troops on a parade ground and solidified, only to reveal no man, no woman, no night, no Boston, no exchange of intimate insight, but merely a Bulgarian writer describing the secret will of crowds.

He put down the book, shut off the light, and settled his head deeper into the pillow. As soon as the room went dark, he came wide awake. The floorboards snapped and blasted like an exchange of gunfire, and the furnace shuddered like a great engine of war.

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