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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Novel set in Bay Area casts inscrutable shadow


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Reading “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012) is like going to an old-fashioned county fair – it’s a lot of fun and there are many surprises along the way. To add to the enjoyment, the book is set in San Francisco and Mountain View, with a stop along the way in New York City.

The main character, Clay Jannon, an unemployed Web designer, is a likable young man who doesn’t seem to possess many marketable skills but is very resourceful. He manages to find a job as night clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore.

There is a mystery central to the basic plot of what is really going on inside this strange book shop. But once we unveil the answer to that question, more surprises remain in store (no pun intended).

It is no surprise that this book made the list of Bay Area Best-Sellers last month, given the local settings and rollicking pace.

Jannon has two important resources: his own tenacity and drive in pursuit of the truth and his cadre of friends, who assist him by providing money, technological savvy and important contacts.

Initially intrigued by discovering that the bookstore has very few customers and strange, unreadable books, Jannon employs the powerful computer technology at Google headquarters to unlock some of these enigmas. Solving the first puzzle leads to more puzzles, and he discovers that technology alone will not resolve every challenge.

It was a bonus to discover that Sloan mentioned several authors whose books I also enjoy, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Dashiell Hammett and Walter Isaacson. His characters are equally familiar with Internet technologies, such as Facebook groups, Google ads and Hacker News (a social news website about computer hacking and startup companies) current in Silicon Valley.

Sloan’s best writing comes at the end of the book: “There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care. … Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in.”

If you wander into this book, you won’t be disappointed.

Leslie Ashmore, a longtime Mountain View resident, belongs to two book clubs.

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