In this 1967 collaboration with Esther Zemborain, Introducción a la literatura noreamericana, Borges discusses several of the greatest (and not so great) American writers from independence until the 1960s. The chapters are divided into rough chronological and genre themes, with an encyclopedia-style approach toward discussing the writers.
Borges was a voracious reader and these entries reflect his enduring passion for American culture, particularly his fondness for jazz, which was a very pleasant surprise for me when I read this book. There is little in the way of overt literary criticism occurring here, as this truly was an introduction to one nation's national literature for another nation's readership to consider and as such, Borges' entries are concise and quite clear, as seen by two entries, one for James Fenimore Cooper and the other for Langston Hughes:
Hasta ahora, la contribución de los negros americanos a la poesía ha sido menos importante que su contribución a la música. Citaremos en primer término a JAMES LANGSTON HUGHES (1902), nacido en Joplin, Missouri, que, como Sandburg, desciende literariamente de Whitman. Su obra, que usa ritmos de jazz, incluye Dear Lovely Death (Querida hermosa muerte), The Dream Keeper (El guardián de sueños), Shakespeare in Harlem, One Way Ticket (Pasaje de ida) y la autobiografía de The Big Sea (El mar grande). Sus versos son patéticos y no pocas veces sardoónicos. (p. 98)
Until now, the contribution of American blacks to poetry has been less important than their contribution to music. We will note first James Langston Hughes (1902), born in Joplin, Missouri, who, like Sandburg, is from Whitman's literary lineage. His work, which uses jazz rhythms, includes "Dear Lovely Death," "The Dream Keeper," "Shakespeare in Harlem," "One Way Ticket," and the autobiography The Big Sea. His verses are touching and not a few times sardonic.
Borges chose writers for the most part that are more traditional storytellers; there was no room in his inn for the Beat writers. He does show an appreciation for William Faulkner and Robert Penn Warren, but I'm guessing that he was not yet aware of Flannery O'Connor's haunting stories. Then again, only three out of the roughly 3-4 dozen writers he discusses were female writers, so it could also be a sign of the then-more prevalent gender bias against women. But despite these gaps in the coverage, this slim little volume rekindled my love for authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Bradbury, O. Henry, and several others. Borges did not skimp on discussing the newer genres, such as science fiction, along with the more traditional ones. It was, flaws and all, an excellent concise introduction to American literature, one that succeeds so well due to the writer remembering that he was a fan first and a writer second.