I very much did not love Roxane Gay's novel that came out earlier this year and would probably have never picked this up if I hadn't been urged to by a friend who disliked Untamed State even more than I did. She loaned me her copy, and I cracked it open with trepidation.
Turns out I had nothing to fear. Gay is a great essayist, warm and friendly and eloquent in her frustration about racial and gender issues. She makes me sigh with relief that I secretly like the song Blurred Lines, even though clearly the lyrics are problematic (and made me so thankful for Weird Al's wonderful parody, Word Crimes).
She covers a wide range of topics in the book, from trigger warnings to whether women have alienable rights (she makes a persuasive case for that), about sexist comics and the publishing world, the problems with The Help and Django Unchained. She can be funny, she can be angry, but she's always interesting.
Recently I spent some time re-reading Janet Burroway's Writing Fiction. In it, she talks about the pitfalls of writing toward an idea rather than character or story. I think that hits the nail on the head for why I found Gay's novel problematic, but really enjoyed the essays: writing toward an idea makes sense in an essay, but it constricts fiction.
Bottom line for me, I'd seek out more of Gay's nonfiction work, but would feel leery about reading more fiction by her. I follow her on Twitter and love her work there (especially when she live-tweets Ina Garten), and I feel bad for not liking the novel, but I can't help myself.