A gripping and exquisitely crafted novel, Self-Portrait of a Dying Man is as powerful and moving as any work in literary dark fiction.

Haunted by the Angel of Death, Margold James sets out on an journey of self-discovery and atonement, that takes unexpected turns for himself and his family.

Informed by Death that he has six months to live, Margold is desperate to be forgiven by those he’s wronged, and to atone for the evil he has done. 

Finding the forgiveness of others to be a rare thing, however, he sets out to find atonement through other means.

At the same time, he decides to paint a series of self-portraits. Something of himself by himself to ease his family’s grief.

As the deadline speeds nearer, he finds Death to be an unrelenting foe.

Self-Portrait of a Dying Man is a deeply moving portrait of one man’s struggle to find forgiveness and atonement, and to escape the clutches of Death, and its affect on his family.

An unforgettable, mesmerizing, and intelligent page-turner with strong female characters.


Judge No. 66 at the 23rd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards had this to say :

After reading the back cover blurb [of Self-Portrait of a Dying Man], I knew I would be hooked on this one and I wasn’t disappointed.

The author writes with a certain dark sense of humor that kept me fixated page after page. What if you knew that you were dying but you were still healthy enough to live out your final days any way you’d like to? What would you do with yourself? How would you come to terms with your life’s choices?

This novel answers those questions as they relate to Margold James. It is both eccentric, clever, and yet shocking in a sense. The author’s voice is rich and strong and seems to capture you into the character’s world in subtle way. Loved the whole “reading of the will” scene.

I really enjoyed this one. Well written and a mostly clean manuscript from cover to cover. The pacing is very good... Nice mix of dialogue and narrative. A smart cast of characters that will make you laugh and cringe.

All of this and more make this a top pick entry. Hope to read more from this author. Thank you for sharing Margold’s journey with us!

Note From the Author

Thank you for taking the time to read about Self-Portrait of a Dying Man.

This is the story of Margold James, an attorney, who is visited by the Angel of Death. Death tells him he has six months to live. There’s nothing wrong with him, Death has decided to truncate Margold’s time on this Earth to a large degree because of the wrong he has done in the past.

The story follows Margold and his family as he undertakes an unusual and surprising journey in an effort to cleanse himself of Death.

The idea of self-portraits occurred to me because I’m a painter, and because I enjoy the self-portraits of other painters, such as Francis Bacon, Picasso, and Lucien Freud. 

In a way, Margold is hedging his bets with these pictures. He’s not entirely convinced he will die, and at some level doesn’t believe it. But just in case, he makes these paintings. 

As to the style, I try to write in a literary style. That doesn’t mean stuffy or flowery, but clear, crisp, and with decent, though limited, descriptions of things and places. 

You will notice that I don’t give a lot of description of people. Some, yes, but I don’t believe in giving every detail. I want the reader to imagine for themselves.

My greatest influences have been Cormac McCarthy, William Kennedy, Anthony Burgess, and Nick Cave.

Although I write from the point of view of a man, female characters are always important in my work. I treat them equally. That is, there are foolish men, and serious men. Strong men and weak men, both physically, emotionally, and intellectually. And so it is with my female characters. 

Margold’s wife is a CPA with her own practice. She is a complex person. She is at once solid and strong, but her reaction to Margold’s odyssey is not. And then she learns a little secret about herself.

He befriends a woman in New Orleans who is an attorney. 

In any event, I hope you enjoy the novel, and take a look at my other books.