Thu07242014

News

Obama visits Los Altos area

Obama visits Los Altos area

President Obama made a fundraising stop today at a private residence in Los Altos Hills, an appearance that spurred traffic disruptions, helicopters scouting overhead and protesters. In the wake of his visit, unknown persons, apparently no fans of ...

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Schools

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall


Town Crier File Photo
Starting in the fall, daily use of laptops in the classroom will be standard operating procedure for students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District launches a pil...

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Community

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'


Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” ELIZA RIDGEWAY/ TOWN CRIER

A massive troupe of young people and grownups gathered in Los Altos this summer to stage the latest iteration of a childhood sta...

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Sports

Football in July

Football in July


Town Crier file photo
Mountain View High’s Anthony Avery is among the nine local players slated to play in tonight’s Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Tonight’s 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic – also known as the Charlie...

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Comment

Pools should be included: Editorial

Los Altos residents should be receiving calls this week from city representatives conducting a survey to determine priorities for a revamped Hillview Community Center.

Notice that we did not say “civic center” – chastened by a lack of public support...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Longtime Palo Alto law firm Thoits, Love, Hershberger & McClean plans to open an office at 400 Main St. in Los Altos after construction is complete in November.

A longtime Palo Alto law firm plans to expand into L...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

PYT stages 'Shrek'

PYT stages 'Shrek'


Lyn Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Dana Cullinane plays Fiona in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek The Musical.”

Peninsula Youth Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts...

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Spiritual Life

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting


Courtesy of Carolyn Barnes
The newly built Los Altos church in 1914 featured a bell tower and an arched front window. Both continue as elements of the building as it stands today.

Foothills Congregational Church – the oldest church building ...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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John le Carré’s latest lacks urgency but still absorbs


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For readers unfamiliar with author John le Carré, here’s a primer: He is best known for his British Cold War spy novels, including “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” (Victor Gollancz & Pan, 1963) and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Hodder & Stoughton, 1974). His fictional British intelligence officer, George Smiley, is probably the most famous literary master spy of the past 50 years.

Le Carré has won numerous awards and seen several of his novels turned into movies and miniseries. Since the end of the Cold War, le Carré has concentrated on writing about serious global problems, such as money laundering, terrorism and corporate greed.

In his latest book, “A Delicate Truth” (Viking, 2013), le Carré first describes a secret mission – codenamed “Wildlife” – from the point of view of a mid-level British civil servant, who goes by the alias “Paul.” Wildlife is assigned to capture a dangerous arms smuggler.

Readers then meet a foreign service agent, Toby Bell, who learns about the mission three years later while working for a British cabinet minister. In the meantime, “Paul,” whose real name is Sir Christopher Probyn, has retired. One of the British soldiers involved in the original mission contacts Probyn, claiming that the mission was a fraud, a failure and a tragedy.

What can and should Bell and Probyn do about the truth of Wildlife? What would public disclosure cost each man?

The first half of “A Delicate Truth” is a rather plodding read – a surprise, especially given how quickly le Carré’s earlier books drew me in. The characters aren’t gripping, there are too many holes about Wildlife and the history and exposition of Bell’s service career prove, frankly, boring.

But the second half of the book more than makes up for what’s lacking at the beginning, providing most of the thrills and excitement of le Carré’s earlier novels.

The characters face difficult moral dilemmas, race to uncover the truth and fear for their lives. Familiar le Carré themes happily come into play, such as loyalty to self and truth versus loyalty to duty and country.

Despite the fact that “A Delicate Truth” is well-written and generally absorbing, le Carré’s topics of gun-running and terrorism are simply not as captivating as his earlier Cold War themes, largely because there is not as much at stake.

I recommend “A Delicate Truth” for fiction-oriented book clubs, particularly those that enjoy spy and mystery novels. The average reader, however, may not find it as compelling as le Carré’s earlier works.

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

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