I believe I've mentioned the name Richard Ford once before. I've been trying to do more non-Internet reading lately, and in keeping with that resolution I picked up Rock Springs last week on something of a whim. I'm only three stories deep but I feel safe in saying this: pick it up.
Ford is a lot like Raymond Carver (the two were acquainted) in that his stories deal with the complex, often terrifying details of supposedly unimportant lives. The trick for both writers is their astounding ability to convey empathy without ever seeming overwrought or condescending. You can't help but root for these characters even as you know no good is likely to come for them.
I've got little patience for novels these days, though I suspect it'll return eventually. I hardly need it between Ford and Carver, both of whom can be read and re-read endlessly, revealing something new each time.