Garner himself went through a phase of hating the book. In his first revulsion he called it "one of the worst books published in the past 20 years." Now he's mellowed. Books don't last for half a century if they're unmitigated rubbish. In a recent interview he calls it "a young man's book" and praises its "energy".
I still don't altogether understand the affection in which it's held. It's the work of writer who is still learning his craft and hasn't- to be honest- got very far with it. Great things were to follow, but when Garner's name comes up it's not Red Shift that gets mentioned first, or Thursbitch, it's the bloody Weirdstone- even though they are masterpieces and Weirdstone is a codge.
No, it's beyond me. I'm missing something, but what?