Check out some facts about his war experiences, his disappointing fling with Hollywood, and one curious choice of beverage. Salinger worked on The Catcher in the Rye while fighting in World War II. Salinger was a restless student, attending New York University, Ursinus College, and Columbia University in succession. Settling back in New York after the war, Salinger continued to write, contributing short stories to The New Yorker and other outlets before finishing The Catcher in the Rye. Early on, it became apparent that Salinger wasn’t going to embrace whatever celebrity The Catcher in the Rye brought to his doorstep.