Rex's lovely City Pages article on Plain Layne is up now: "I never went to cool parties. With Plain Layne, I was meeting the coolest people--people I would never have met otherwise." Hmm... I guess we were, too.

CP: Did you ever feel deceitful about interacting with people using Layne's persona?

Soli: Most of the time the interactivity was a wonderful challenge, since every exchange forced the character to evolve. Just think about all the conversational questions that most literary characters never confront, or only at the preplanned behest of the author. What did Layne do today? Could she share a recipe? Was she going clubbing this weekend, and if so, where? What did she think of the Pawlenty administration? Why didn't she pull her head out of her ass and quit the girlfriend du jour? It was fiction in a hurry.

I empathize completely with how hurt people feel by the Layne hoax, and it's totally justified. But reading this just tickles my brain. I must know more.

June 29, 2004 at 10:55 AM in Blogumentary | Permalink


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I know there are some folks feeling betrayed, but personally I think this is brilliant...and now it makes me wish I'd visited the site more frequently.

Posted by: Sharyn at Jun 29, 2004 12:48:38 PM

I'm torn on the thing. As a writer, it was a pretty cool experiment for him to do. On the other hand, the fact that he didn't just keep it to the blog (novel characters don't suddenly pop out of the book and send you birthday cards) kind of bothers me. Sure, it meant developing the character more, but that level of deception isn't right. A lot of people seemed to have shared pretty rough times with "Layne" because they thought she was a confidant and could relate, but it was really just this guy.

Soli said that Layne was shaped by her readers. So in the end, Layne was all of us, in a way.

Posted by: Ciri at Jun 29, 2004 3:59:01 PM

Yes, I can't help but think it's genius in many ways.

But you know, if I was a rape victim and shared my experience with Layne, who also claimed to be a rape victim - only to find out it was this guy? I'd be pissed.

I once pretended to be a flirty girl in an IRC chatroom (pre-Web), and I was "raped" by the two guys in the chatroom. That was pretty much the beginning and end of my online gender experimentation.

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at Jun 29, 2004 5:45:20 PM

What "girl" watches "The Shield" or uses phrases like "torrid girl on girl action?" Soli emailed me a few times as "Layne" to reassure me that all was well with "her." When I questioned her validity in email, (s)he retorted "Why would anyone make this up?"

Why indeed...

My guess is that Soli is a pre-operative transsexual, a woman trapped in a man's body, and is unwilling to get the surgery due to perceived social norms, a wife with lesbian tendencies that she doesn’t want to surface, and two kids that really don’t like the idea of having two mommies. It's probably hardest of all on the wife, who if not a lesbian, has to deal with the fact that the man she married is really a woman. Either that, or come to terms with the fact that she's a lesbian herself and was attracted by those feminine qualities of his that led her to marry him in the first place.

Do you think Mrs. Soli cringed every time Odin suggested she penetrate him with the strap-on? Do you think she ever wondered "Why do I always have to be the man in this relationship? Was that thought going through her mind as she posted her defense of Odin in Ryan's comment box? "Again, Odin? Why am I always the man here?"

As embarrassing as it must be to Odin to have been "outed" it must be doubly so for Mrs. Soli to have to acknowledge "Yes, I am Odin Soli's wife."

Posted by: Pawn at Jun 30, 2004 7:37:56 AM

I use phrases like "torrid girl-on-girl action" all the time. Maybe I am secretly a man. I doubt it, though. I think gender is a much more fluid concept than you're allowing it to be. So Odin Soli has a vivid imagination; that doesn't necessarily mean he's a "woman trapped in a man's body."

(note - I am a sea slug trapped in a human's body. Which is why I have created an elaborate fantasy world that involves never updating my blog. Ho ho.)

Posted by: spacewaitress at Jun 30, 2004 8:43:16 AM

So Odin is a pre-op transexxual married to a lesbian. Whew, well I'm glad you figured that out.

I'm with Spacey... gender is fluid and complex. See here. You may seriously be right about Odin, and maybe Layne was his virtual female interface to the world in leiu of a physical female interface. Then again, maybe he's just a good writer.

Either way, pretty much everything you suggest for Mrs. Soli is rude and riduculous.

[ Spacey, I thought you were going to have that sea slug removed? ]

Posted by: Chuck at Jun 30, 2004 10:50:52 AM