Books: French Moral Tale

MONSIEUR PAUL (256 pp.) — Henri Calet—Dutton ($3).

Decades of French fiction have pictured the Parisian husband as an amatory gymnast hopping gallantly from marital bedroom to illicit boudoir. In his sixth novel, and second book to be translated into English, Henri Calet gets a fresh camera angle on the old shot. His hero, a Parisian named Thomas Schumacher, is 40, greying and deadly tired of leading the fashionable double life. He is still rather fond of the wife he has just divorced, and has come to hate the mistress who is the mother of his infant son Paul. What with shuttling...

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