You cannot help but love the opening line of Bart Schneider's new novel, "The Man in the Blizzard" (Three Rivers Press, $14.95, 304 pages); the last word is so unexpected. Here it is: I don't know when I first discovered that Detective Bobby Sabbatini, of the Saint Paul Police Department, had a photographic memory for poetry.

The book, perhaps best described as an ironic thriller, is set in St. Paul during the upcoming Republican National Convention, and is studded with familiar names (Jesse Ventura, Al Franken, Norm Coleman) and familiar places (Dunn Brothers, W.A. Frost, Lake Street). Schneider, the author of three other novels, lives in St. Paul.

• I'm not quite sure how so many people can just up and move to another country -- and then write a book about it. They pull together a bunch of money and buy a crumbling old house to refurbish, I guess. Or go to cooking school and just stay on. Or, like Polly Grose of Minneapolis, they follow their heart. Grose's new book "A London Scrapbook," (Beaver's Pond Press, $16.95, 172 pages), is a memoir of her 20 years in London with her husband, David.

Anthony Bukoski has published his fifth collection of short fiction. The 12 stories in "North of the Port" (Southern Methodist University Press, 192 pages, $22.50) are set in Bukoski's hometown of Superior, Wis., and in Louisiana. Bukoski teaches English at the University of Wisconsin. His stories have been featured on National Public Radio.

• Loft education director Brian Malloy has published his third novel. "Twelve Long Months," (Scholastic Press, 320 pages) is about a Minnesota teenager who falls for her gay best friend. Malloy also teaches at Hamline and the University of Minnesota.

Bill Watkins of Minneapolis has written a second memoir. "The Once and Future Celt" (Scarletta Press, 344 pages, $16.95) is the sequel to "A Celtic Childhood."

Laurel Means of Chaska will read from her new book, "The Long Journey Home" (Academy Chicago Publishers, 250 pages, $16.95), a novel set in the 1860s in Minnesota and the Dakotas, at 2 p.m. today at Common Good Books in St. Paul, and at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Magers and Quinn in Uptown.

• Signet Classics has published an updated edition of Sinclair Lewis' novel, "Main Street," with a new introduction by George Killough of Duluth. Killough, a professor of English at the College of St. Scholastica, is the editor of Lewis' "Minnesota Diary: 1942-46" (University of Idaho Press).

• Submissions are being accepted through Aug. 15 for the 2009 edition of "Dust and Fire: Women's Stories," published by Bemidji State University. Submission forms and guidelines are available at 1-218-755-3355 or on the Web at

Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302