NONFICTION: Flow: The Life and Times of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River

How you feel about Flow will depend on your receptivity to its conceit: Main Liner Kephart (A Slant of Sun; Still Love in Strange Places) anthropomorphizes the Schuylkill and gives her reactions to monumental and everyday events — the building of the Water Works, a bridge suicide, men fishing — in brief bursts of prose. Some results are giddily lyrical: “Next week the shad will rise again. Come upriver and blush me pink with their useless enthusiasm.” Other entries dangle historical tidbits: shelter offered George Washington’s troops, how pollution curtailed ice-skating, a ghastly flood in 1733. (Downside: The black-and-white photos are way too small.) This slim valentine can be silly and sentimental, but there are enough direct hits, including the river’s reaction to the new Expressway (“They have christened the comet with a name, and that name is Traffic”), to redeem it. Grade: B+