Gary Provost’s book of offbeat humor, The Dorchester Gas Tank, is one of the six unpublished manuscripts he’d written after high school. While teaching himself how to write for publication, he took on a long succession of low-paying jobs across the country. At 29, in Florida, after writing for ten years, he’d accumulated many flattering letters from senior editors. But still had not sold a word. Provost saw only one solution out of his bind: Self-publishing! So, in 1974 he turned to Tank for a small-business venture. At home, after driving a laundry truck all day, he published the book himself, cranking out ink-blotched pages by hand on an inexpensive but ancient mimeograph machine, before collating and stapling the mess into a couple hundred books. He managed to peddle some copies through the mail, but most sales were to friends or friends of friends. Not bad, he thought. But stacked up against his dreams, a “wretched failure.”
So when he was back in Massachusetts without a job, he filled a small brightly colored suitcase with his books and every morning hitch-hiked to Boston to hawk them near subway stations, in front of City Hall, and on the steps of the Copley Plaza Library. Not easy for a guy who’d been a painfully shy kid, raised in the slums of Boston. But when people stopped to ask about Tank, he answered openly. With warmth and with humor. The book was irreverent, he said. Had strong language. Wasn’t for everyone. Poked fun at just about everything. The in-person strategy worked. Soon, Writer’s Digest magazine published “Beginner’s Pluck,” the article Provost submitted about the self-publishing experience. Tank became a bit of an underground sensation. And for Writer’s Digest, Gary Provost became a regular contributor, contributing editor, regular columnist, then one of Writer’s Digest Books’ top selling authors.
Right up until his sudden death in 1995, his writing and teaching career soared. He went on to be known as ‘The Writer’s Writer,” with thousands of published articles and humorous columns, dozens of books written in multiple genres to his credit-- true crime to humor, to bio, to novels for children. And most everything in between.
This blotch-free edition by CrossroadPress is as much for Gary as for his fans.