Garner's stated goal here was to accurately give the 'feel' of an orally told tale to a reading audience. Most of the stories here are adapted from 19th-century collections of folklore, which, I believe, in many cases transcribed, word-for-word, what rural British tale-tellers said.
Garner says that such literal transcriptions can miss an essential element, since performance is a large part of storytelling. However, he also regards with disdain many modern retellings of fairytales with their 'subversive agendas.' (Hey, I tend to like those, but hey...)
I believe he succeeds in his goal. Reading these stories, you definitely get the feel of an elderly person in some village pub, telling a story... the story can sometimes be rather random, and even at times, not make much logical sense... but it's got a certain something that 'cleaned up' versions of a similar tale do not.
Most of these stories are not wholly familiar, but they all have familiar elements.
Very interesting read; a must for anyone interested in fairy tales and folklore. The woodcut illustrations are also beautiful.