A twist on the American classic: The Sidekick, by Benjamin Markovits, reviewed

On the cover of The Sidekick, just below a broken basketball hoop, a quote from Jonathan Lethem suggests Benjamin Markovits is a ‘classic American voice’. Open the book and the first sentence – ‘I was a big slow fat kid but one thing I could do was shoot free throws’ – confirms the kind of American classicism we can expect: Salinger-conversational, Updike-melancholic, Roth-confessional. Male and white, in short. A decade ago, when The Sidekick is largely set, this would be hardly worth mentioning, but for a new novel to stand on such patriarchal shoulders now feels curiously old-fashioned. And while Markovits strives for something more contemporary, it is that voice