AUTISM, FAMOUS AUTISTIC SAVANTS, RAIN MAN AND THOMAS BETHUNE

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RAIN MAN, the movie won four Oscars for the depiction of a greedy, selfish, upwardly mobile (Yuppy), Charlie, whose business life is spinning out of control and his dead father’s large fortune is just the ticket he needs to turn things around.  The only problem is, his older brother, Ray, the one he vaguely remembers, who happens to be mentally and emotionally challenged.  The yuppy discovers his brother has a way with numbers and statistics, a phenomenal, extraordinary way with numbers and decides that skill could be used to his benefit, especially since their father left the fortune to Ray.

The real life Rain Man was Kim Peek. He performed poorly on standardized tests, scoring below average, but he was discovered to possess a photographic memory.  Unlike the character in the movie “…Babbitt, Peek was not autistic[4] and likely had FG syndrome.” (Wikepedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Peek)

The great classical music slave prodigy, Thomas Bethune, was indeed autistic and much like the fictional character Ray, was left alone, thought to be worthless, yet turned out to be a diamond in the ruff for his master Colonel James Bethune.  Given the stage name “Blind Tom,” Thomas was socially awkward at times, but extremely confident, if not arrogant when it came to his musical genius.  He reportedly enjoyed the positive attention he received from performing and demanded perfection when it came to his pianos as well as the musicians who joined him on stage.

Other Famous autistic savants, as listed in Wikepedia

Alonzo Clemons, American clay sculptor [31]
Tony DeBlois, blind American musician [32]
Leslie Lemke, blind American musician [33]
Jonathan Lerman, American artist [34]
Thristan Mendoza, Filipino marimba prodigy [35]
Jerry Newport is an author, savant, and has Asperger’s. His wife, Mary Newport, is also a savant on the autistic spectrum [36]
Derek Paravicini, blind British musician [37]
James Henry Pullen, gifted British carpenter [38]
Matt Savage, U.S. autistic jazz prodigy [39]
Henriett Seth-F., Hungarian autistic savant, poet, writer and artist

OSCAR WORTHY THE HELP novel V.S. EIGHTH WONDER the novel

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IS IT LIKE THE HELP?

That’s a common question I receive when it comes to EIGHTH WONDER and admittedly it’s an exciting one, as the wildly popular book and equally popular movie are present in everyone’s consciousness.  It’s flattering to even have the comparison made. But the answer is, yes in small ways, but mostly no.

BOTH Katheryn Stockett’s “The Help,” and A.M. Cal’s EIGHTH WONDER are books set in the old south that deal with the complex and volatile subject of black-white relations, but that’s where their similarities end. Here’s a book review by Janet Maslin from the New York Times in regards to “The Help.”:

RACIAL INSULTS AND QUIET BRAVERY IN 1960s MISSISSIPPI

“In “The Help,” Kathryn Stockett’s button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel about black domestic servants working in white Southern households in the early 1960s, one woman works especially tirelessly. She labors long into the night. She is exhausted. Her eyes are stinging, her fingers bloody and sore…”  The Help aims to highlight and exploit the social ills and obstacles the black maids experienced in Mississippi.  On the other hand, “Eighth Wonder,” centers around the remarkable true life of Thomas Bethune, who was blind and left for dead, only to for his master to discover he is an astounding musical genius, capable of rendering the most heavenly melodies on the piano.

Unlike “The Help,” which takes place during one space and time of the 1960s Mississippi, EIGHTH WONDER is an epic tale that spans the globe. A historical novel based on the amazing true story of Thomas Bethune, a slave virtuoso born bline who became an American treasure known throughout the world as “Blind Tom.”  It is told through the eyes of Thomas’s master Colonel James Bethune, a man of privilege, of the planters’ aristocracy, a descendant of French noblemen.


EIGHTH WONDER THE NOVEL EXCERPT REVIEWS

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