You may know that actor Dustin Hoffman met with several people with savant syndrome
when he was developing his character Raymond Babbitt for the Oscar-winning movie, Rain Man
. What you might not know, though, is that the original screenplay written by Barry Morrow was based on the life of a man named Kim Peek, whom Morrow met in 1984.
Amazing mental abilities and childlike sincerity
In The Real Rain Man, Kim Peek's father, Fran Peek, provides the story of Kim's life. Readers learn of Kim's amazing mental ability to calculate the day of the week for a particular date (called calendar calculation), his encyclopedic factual knowledge, and his photographic (eidetic) memory. But Kim is more than just these abilities, and Fran gives readers a well-rounded picture of the whole person. Throughout the book Fran lets Kim's childlike qualities shine through in numerous anecdotes and "KimKwips," interesting things Kim has said. The picture of Kim which emerges is that of a warm, outgoing, and sincere person who happens to have special gifts.
Celebrity with a cause
After meeting Dustin Hoffman, and the release of Rain Man in 1988, Kim became an instant celebrity. Fran tells how he and Kim traveled the country to meet with people of all ages. They did this not as a curiosity sideshow, but to spread Kim's personal message: "Recognize and respect differences in others." Kim has been interviewed on television and in print, and has met thousands of people. His outgoing personality and special talents have touched many people all over the world.
Filled with amazing, humorous, and moving stories
Fran writes simply and directly, filling the book with stories about Kim which are at times amazing, humorous, or moving to read. Although Fran tries to stay in the background, his love for his son is obvious, and his gentle guidance is a strong force in Kim's life. Fran at one point states that he wasn't sure whether Kim should go out and meet the world, whether this might be too much for Kim. The anecdotes in this book, though, show that the world is glad it has had the chance to meet Kim. And if you haven't yet met him, read this book and you will find yourself entranced by the story of Kim Peek, the "real" Rain Man.