Taking the informal approach to retailing one's life is a risky business, like cracking jokes on the witness stand. Louis Armstrong survived that stratagem in his New Orleans memoir by using a folksy, primitive patter, colorfully appropriate for his Dixieland background. Calder, alas, is not a striking conversationalist, and ""dictating his autobiography...without notes"" over a period of four months, chattering on a few hours each day, merely produces stupefyingly indifferent writing. The years pass with ticker-tape finesse: childhood in Philadelphia, the Art Students League, marriage, artistic explosions in Paris during the Thirties, struggles, friendship, fame, ""Le Guichet"" set up at Lincoln Center. It was Duchamp who dubbed Calder's constructions ""Mobiles,"" Arp who christened his other objects ""Stabiles."" When Edward G. Robinson, the Hollywood connoisseur, first came upon a Calder vernissage, he said: ""What the hell is that stuff?"" The book, according to the publisher, ""will contain some 200 black and white and 4 to 20 color illustrations"" as well as ""personal mementoes, family photographs,"" and so forth. All to the good, certainly, since Calder's genius appears reserved for his studio. Fine for the fans.