The Dorchester Gas Tank

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The Dorchester Gas Tank

By Gary Provost

Gary Provost’s book of offbeat humor, The Dorchester Gas Tank, is one of the six unpublished manuscripts he’d written after high school.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 well, he took on a long succession of low-paying jobs across the country. At 29, after ten years of this, he’d accumulated many flattering letters from senior editors but still had not sold a word. Provost saw only one solution: Self-publishing! So, at home, after driving a laundry truck all day, he cranked out ink-blotched pages by hand on an ancient mimeograph machine, producing finally 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, he filled a small 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. When people stopped to ask about Tank, he answered with warmth and 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 his self-publishing experience. Tank became an underground sensation. And Provost himself went on to become a regular contributor, contributing editor, regular columnist for Writer’s Digest, 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 credits including thousands of published articles, interviews, humorous columns, and dozens of books written in multiple genres – from books for writers to true crimes and novels for children. And most everything in between.

This blotch-free edition by Crossroad Press edition is as much for Gary as for his fans. (For more info about Gary’s legacy visit garyprovost.com.)

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