Hunter S. Thompson
I know they made a film out of this in the 90s, but I can't get my head around that. Not because it's an unfilmable mess; I have no trouble imagining this as a film. Almost the opposite. I can picture the film exceptionally well, because I've already seen Withnail & I half a dozen times.
Two drugged and drunk friends go on a crazy roadtrip and mourn the passing of the 1960s, and all those years entailed. Yep, that's the same story. As Withnail and Fear and Loathing are both at least 'based on' true events, though, I'm not calling plagiarism (except in the way that all non-fiction is plagiarism, by stealing bits from real life.)
The fictional truth/factual nonsense angle is undiluted in Fear and Loathing. This is, after all, the textbook example of Gonzo journalism (it was only in the Post Script material in this Harper Perennial edition that I learned that Gonzo journalism wasn't Thompson's own coinage.)
Maybe the lure of Gonzo journalism was contextual to its time. From my perspective, though, there is little that is surprising or original in it. I'd be massively surprised if it really did only take hold in the late 60s -- it's a fundamental tool of storytelling (or truth-telling, whatever) -- just having an identity crisis.
That's not to say Hunter Thompson's own take on the mongrel approach is not frantically exciting and readable. Fear and Loathing paints a very different picture of the end-of-the-decade malaise than that found in the rain-filled English Withnail. Thompson is looking back, mourning the loss of the bigger thing; the movement, the intangible moment when everyone who was there was part of the same cresting wave. Withnail's journey is a much more personal one; looking forward, but not with positivity. He is staring down the barrel of a hopeless life, the decade after Hope reached an all time international high.
How much of that difference in perspective is genuine, and how much is some Gonzo insinuation from the weather the two stories both fight and embody, I wouldn't care to say.