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News

LA council votes to delay community center update

LA council votes to delay community center update


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council voted to delay adoption of a community center conceptual design plan last week. The plan includes elements from a design charette held earlier this fall, left.

The Los Altos City Council last...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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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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