He studied philosophy at l'École normale supérieure de Saint-Cloud and began his career as a teacher first at the Lycée technique de Saint-Quentin and later at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. He then became a professor in 1974 at the Institut universitaire de technologie in Villetaneuse. He currently serves as an administrator at the Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques (SACD).
Lainé discovered Dumas and Hugo as he recovered from childhood illnesses and he aspired to that kind of voluminous writing. But he focused on philosophy and history in school, becoming an avid student of Kant, Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger. He was also drawn to Marxism (both by conviction and from a desire to rile his parents) and he chose Russian as his second foreign language, permitting him to read Chekhov and Dostoyevsky in the original.
With Rimbaud, he discovered the "fireworks" of poetry, and in Mallarmé he discovered the pleasure of deciphering a text and studying its structure. He is also fascinated by Witold Gombrowicz: "I felt with this joker, this aristocratic Rabelais an instant kinship. He taught me that a writer gives up his homeland and is always a foreigner wherever he finds himself."
- B comme Barrabas ( Gallimard - 1967)
- L'Irrévolution (roman, Gallimard, Prix Médicis - 1971)
- La Dentellière (roman, Gallimard, rééd. Folio- Prix Goncourt - 1974)
- Si on partait (roman, Gallimard, 1978rééd. L'Arganier2006)
- L'Eau du miroir (roman, Mercure de France1979)
- Tendres cousines (roman,Gallimard, rééd. Folio 1979)
- Terres des ombres (roman,Gallimard, 1982)
- Les Petites Egarées (roman, 1988)
- Dialogues du désir (roman, 1992)
- L'Incertaine (roman, 1993)
- Le Commerce des apparences (roman, 1997)
- Anaïs nue (roman, 1999)
- Derniers jours avant fermeture (roman, 2001)
- Capitaine Bringuier (Théâtre)
- Monsieur vous oubliez votre cadavre
- Le mystère de la Tour Eiffel (roman, 2005)
- Un clou chasse l'autre ou La vie d'artiste (essai, Punctum editions 2006)