SA FEMME by Emmanuele Bernheim. (Viking: $19.99; 119 pp.) One of the lovers in this story is a master of leaving no traces of himself in his girlfriend Claire's apartment. Space and time close up after him, even though Claire saves condom wrappers and phone messages. Everyday for several months he spends exactly one hour and 15 minutes with Claire, then hurries back to his "wife and two children."
She imagines his life, thinks she sees his children in crowds, sinks farther and farther from her work (she is a doctor) and her friends and her family until she is almost completely isolated. Then he tells her he isn't really married. And they live happily ever after. Your victim-sniffing brain wants to make a martyr of this woman until an enigmatic gesture at the end of the novel reveals that she is addicted to this strange, antiseptic kind of affair.