Sam Emerson, the protagonist of Elegy for Sam Emerson, the eighth and most recent novel by Hilary Masters í52, is in a good place professionally speaking. A chef, heís co-owner of Samís Place, a celebrated restaurant in a Frank Lloyd Wright house overlooking the rivers and towers of downtown Pittsburgh. Personally, though, Sam is in a rougher spot. Divorced and well into middle age, he is in love with a younger woman who is keeping her emotional distance. Meanwhile Samís narcissistic actress mother has just died. She neglected him in childhood, leaving him to be raised by his great-aunt, a biscuit-baking, gravy-pouring font of affection and stability. Samís war photographer father was another absentee, working abroad until he finally got himself killed during World War II. In death, Samís mother leaves him one final choreóto dispose of her ashes. Told by a more cynical writer, this story might have been contemptuous. Instead, Sam Emerson is good company, a kind and decent man you wish well.