What’s it about?

portrait of a body (in pieces) is a novel (in chunks) about a man (in bits).

Why are you publishing it on Substack?

I’m publishing it as I write it because I didn’t want to wait two years to re-engage with an audience. It’s free because I want people to read it. I’m doing this with the full support of my literary agent (she says hi 👋). I wouldn’t be doing this if I thought it was bad. I am good at this, and I’m excited to share it with you.

Even though it came out after I began this project, this interview in i-D with Bret Easton Ellis about why he serialised his new novel really nails it:

The book has actually been out for over a year now, existing as a serialised podcast that Bret (Easton Ellis) released between September 2020 and September 2021. Every two weeks, Bret would read another chapter of The Shards as he was writing it. Serialisation is nothing new (it’s basically how every novel during the Victorian period was released) but Bret’s approach does feel like a particularly ingenious way of disrupting the contemporary publishing model.

“The patience required to write a novel, wait for it to be published, and then to get readers, is just an antiquated system of getting information out to people. I think we live in a time where it just doesn't seem to make much sense.”

So why not just publish it as you write it? – Barry Pierce, i-D, January 2023

My thoughts exactly.

Okay, tell me more…

It’s a story about a man putting himself back together, literally. His brain is missing, his ex-girlfriend has his heart, and he gave his right arm for… something. There are other parts of him missing too, if only he could remember which.

It’s sometimes sad, often funny, and importantly full of hope. It’s about how far we’ll go to not feel hurt anymore, and how we pull ourselves together after falling apart.

The story takes place over a year, between January and December, and the novel will be serialised in its entirety during that time. It’s an experiment in story and format designed for email, with updates on the character’s journey in close-to-real time.

Is it for me?

This is a novel in progress. I’ve got an idea where I’m going, and a few theories on how to get there, but that’s all.

Part of the fun is that this is going to unfold in front of us both over the course of the next year. What you’ll get by subscribing is early access to a brand new work, some insight into my writing process, and a front row seat for whatever happens next.

I can’t promise perfection, but I can promise an adventure.

Okay, but who are you?

Hi, I’m Dan. If you’re new to my work why not read my debut novel, Johnny Ruinhere’s the Guardian review – or some of my other works.

How often will you send it?

Chapters will arrive three times a month, every 1st, 11th, and 21st. Instalment one will arrive on January 1st, 2023. The last instalment will arrive December 21st, 2023.

Do I need to pay to subscribe?

portrait of a body (in pieces) is free to read, but paid subscriptions are a way to support this experimental fiction project. It’s £3.50 a month (around $4.25) or £30 for the year (around $36). There is also a Patron tier if anyone is feeling particularly generous.

While there isn’t any planned additional content, paid subscribers can comment on sends and join occasional chats.

Patrons will be thanked at the bottom of each newsletter (you can opt out of this).

Thank you! Please share responsibly.

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a novel (in chunks) about a man (in bits)


Dan Dalton

Author of Johnny Ruin & Portrait of a Body (In Pieces) – inpieces.substack.com