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Holy Skirts by Rene Steinke
Holy Skirts is Rene Steinke's fictionalized imagining of the life of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven a poet, bohemian, and completely independent woman who scandalized New York with her eccentric behavior in 1917. She posed nude for artists, shaved her pubic hair in a movie, wore a bustle with a flashing taillight, a brassiere made from tomato cans, and a birdcage necklace, and once protested the war by reciting a poem while holding a giant phallus. Rene Steinke creates the life of Elsa, from running away to join the cabaret in Berlin to her rejection of societal norms for feminine behavior to the three husbands who couldn't live with her. Her portrayal, though, is not of woman on the edge of madness, but of a woman determined to live life on her own terms. Holy Skirts has received positive reviews with the Washington Post saying, "This fascinating and moving novel celebrates the baroness as a remarkable woman whose boldness took her to extremes that make most of us flinch."