Oh my, yes. I'm not a slice-of-life fan like some of the folks in my book club, but I appreciate a stellar read when I meet it.
I'll compare this book with - yet again - "The Marriage Plot" by Jeffrey Eugenides. In this case, it truly feels as if the authors of both volumes were writing stream-of-conscious or off-the-cuff. A novel for the sake of telling a story. Not without its own themes, mind you, but created far more to tell a story (with a capital S) than to tell a lesson (unfortunately, very much usually with a capital L).
The difference is that "The Marriage Plot" is shite, and this is brilliance.
This novel plays with its characters - and especially with the 2 main protagonists. But that's completely wrong because Walter excels at taking bit parts and making them come alive after a few paragraphs. More so than any author I can name at this very moment. It's rather breathtaking, in fact.
The other thing the novel plays with is time. It's very likely its central theme. Not just that we jump around from the 60s to the present time and back throughout. But that time is essential to how the characters grow and learn and become who they always should have been.
I did think the ending was a mite bit too pat (haha, for those who have already read it). I forgive Walter because he gave me Richard Burton in a boat off the Italian coast extemporaneously being the genius he truly was.